Technical blog and writings by Micah Webner.

Lifestream Aggregation Issues (or why I'm dropping Twitter from FriendFeed)

Aggregated Life - The Yahoo! Pipes Attempt

Lifestream aggregation is an issue I've been pondering for quite a while now. I have multiple blogs and web 2.0 services. Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube and the list goes on. I've been seeking an effective way to combine all of this crud into a single RSS feed so I can share all of it in one place.

And so I've tried a couple of methods. I made some Yahoo! Pipes. I tried rolling everything through my Tumblog. I tried the feed aggregator in Drupal core. And I mostly settled on FriendFeed, especially since Rob Loach wrote a sweet FriendFeed Module for Drupal.

About the time I committed to go in this direction, a bunch of my Twitter friends also started adopting FriendFeed. Some of us were considering it as an alternative to Twitter's steady stream of meltdowns, but I started to wonder whether this was even realistic. As far as I'm concerned, Twitter and FriendFeed fill different niches. FriendFeed seems to works well for letting tweets become threaded conversations, but most of my little clique doesn't use Twitter that way. Our tweets are mostly disposable, and even the conversations we have there are fleeting, and pass quickly.

Side rant: My only real design issue with Twitter is that you can only send @replies to people, not individual posts, and these replies attach to the last thing a person said. That would be fine for text and API, but it would be nice if, on the web site anyway, a reply link on a post would link the @reply to the selected post.

So now I'm not only using FriendFeed to aggregate my own web presence, but also to keep track of my friends. Bring in the daily background chatter from Twitter, and the feeds get cluttered with stuff I'm already watching directly on Twitter. Add in duplicate posts from services like BrightKite and, and I'm missing some really good content that my friends are posting via FriendFeed. The only way to catch it all is to click on each friend's page every few days and scroll through it looking for stuff I might have missed.

I have the same problem on the other end, as the FriendFeed shown here on my blog has become just another regurgitation of my latest tweets. All other aggregated content is getting lost in the shuffle. The only place where I might want it to show is in my FaceBook mini-feed, but if my FaceBook friends really want to follow my Twitter conversations, they would probably come join Twitter.

So I've made the decision to drop Twitter from my FriendFeed sources. Which means that my FriendFeed will contain content of a different consistency and texture than a passing tweet. That's not to discount the value of the Twitter experience. It's just that for me, Twitter has become part of the daily stream, and things that make it to my FriendFeed might be worth lingering over or even revisiting.