The FriendFeed team and servers will act according to the strategies of Facebook since the acquisition. What impact will this have? Let’s first recap a few points.
As the news started spreading, some users where quite upset for fear of being assimilated in what they consider an inferior platform for sharing.
Scoble started working on his home page on FB, and had to complain. What would be missed if FriendFeed was turned off tomorrow? There might be a lot of different anwers, but I would stress openness.
Facebook is a closed space that has wll guarded walls and an aggressive copyright on anything that crosses the border inwards. FriendFeed, instead, is made up with stuff shared from its owner, mostly residing somewhere else, thanks to the open RSS format, with added discussion and realtime search.
Discussions are FriendFeed’s added value and may range in interest from Scoble’s instant chat rooms to idle chatter. FriendFeed can also make sense of discussions that happen on different media, discussions of which a random tweet is just an obscure part. In short, the world seen from FriendFeed has more dimensions.
Real time search, also, is a wonderful research tool. FriendFeed brings all this added value to your own content, once you decide to share, and this is a good thing.
Composition is an other key: using Twitter for launching what you have created or sharing thoughts, Flickr for archiving and organizing your pictures, Delicious for organizing your web snippets in a mini blog, all this makes a lot of sense. Using FriendFeed to create a picture from all this pieces make a lot of sense too. Trying to love every detail of Facebook and trying to live filling the blanks in Facebook forms does not make too much sense.
Facebook is great for chatting with friends, sharing pictures and finding people because everyone has at least an idle presence in there, but I would not want to have business contacts, coworkers or customers mixed with aunts and scholl friends. One problem with all these social network is managing one’s own facets.
We obviously want to be able to share using as many tools as we like, so the aggregation features of FriendFeed will stay with us one way or an other.
Dave Winer started working on something interesting, maybe this is a part of the final picture. What if there was not real server as in a file sharing network? People would own their stuff and decide where to share what, and this is a good thing. These are Winer’s current ideas on the Rss cloud. I think this process is going to be accelerated by Facebook’s acquisition of it’s best competitor.
We have seen a pattern over and over again: applications come and go, protocols stay forever, if you need a proof consider that FTP was born in 1972 and did not change too much since then. The Internet we know and love has been created by HTML and HTTP, and made available by Mosaic, Netscape, Internet Explorer, Safari, whatever you choose. Open protocols give us freedom, applications give us user experience. Facebook is obviously an application, and as nice as it might be and as loved as it might be, will not stay forever, but RSS has changed our lives much more.
An RSS cloud could go a long way changing things, so we do not really have to worry about missing FriendFeed one day, our future will be really shaped by open protocols and file formats and how they will allow real time sharing in many new interesting ways. So, some. like @rww, see a perfect storm coming in social networking, I would be happy to see it.