Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FriendFeed is the Higgs-vector boson of social media

As a scientist, I've encountered some fairly difficult concepts, such as the Higgs-vector boson and string theory. (You may remember string theory - it was the point where you stopped reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time). In fact, the Higgs-vector boson (or Higgs boson as its friends call it) is so confusing that the Wikipedia entry on the subject says:

(I love it when Wikipedia turns into The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy)

So confusing is the Higgs boson that in 1993, UK Science Minister William Waldegrave challenged physicists to produce an answer that would fit on one page to the question: What is the Higgs boson, and why do we want to find it? Similarly, we have had public competitions to explain string theory in two minutes or less.

Like me, you may have had difficulty explaining Twitter to a colleague or relative who asked you

Why are you wasting your time on this?

It's not any easy question to answer, and like many people, I've struggled with it in the past.

How much more difficult then to explain FriendFeed. Unlike Willie Waldegrave, I'm not offering cases of champagne to the person who leaves the best description of FriendFeed in a comment below. But I still need to understand FriendFeed properly. I think we all do, as FriendFeed points the way to whatever Web2.0 is evolving into.

After I spent a long time writing this post, I think the prescient Loic Le Muir has answered the question:


  1. "Friendfeed Is Going To Kill Google Reader, Not Twitter"

    I'd like to think that a next gen comms client will replace both gmail and google reader; and twitter...

    and it'll also support wikimail ;-)

  2. So, do you actively use FriendFeed Tony?

  3. I can't help thinking that if FriendFeed is that hard for people to understand - bearing in mind that the people we're talking about at the moment are well over to the right-hand-side of the technology aptitude curve - it's pretty unlikely to catch on in large numbers than even Twitter.

  4. True, unless the site is revised to take user feedback into account, e.g. Liam's (and other people's) suggestion that it should be possible to "personalize" the FriendFeed experience, e.g. configurable layout, skins, etc. After all, it worked for MySpace.