TechCrunch and Loic Le Meur miss the point with FriendFeed

I noticed John McCrea’s post about this meme known as the “centralised / centralized me (depending on your language preference)” meme which has started to do the rounds on the some of the more popular blogs, like TechCrunch and Loic Le Meur’s blog.

Much of the focus is on FriendFeed and given that FriendFeed seems to be the new Twitter these days, this is hardly surprising but as I pointed out a little while ago, this idea of you as the focal point and origin of your many content streams is hardly new.

Michael Arrington and Loic Le Meur really seem to be missing the point here with FriendFeed. Arrington has the following concern:

But there’s something just a little weird about FriendFeed, some people are starting to mumble. It’s an aggregated “me” but it sits in a centralized site (in fact, centralization is kind of the point). FriendFeed is a (and hopes to become “the”) Centralized Me. It’s a data silo. True, it’s a friendly data silo, with APIs and RSS feeds to move some of the data around, but it’s ultimately housed on their servers, and always will be.

Le Meur pitches in with this concern:

The challenge for Friendfeed and the like is that while I really like all my services gathered in one place, I would rather that these would be centralized on my blog instead of a third party service. Yes you can cross post or add badges, but it’s not really like a center feed in your blog. What I like about my blog is that it is my space, I own it, I can customize it and change it, I do not depend on anybody (except the software and host, TypePad of course, needless to say).

The value in FriendFeed is not as a centralised “data silo” but as one of many possible channels for content. Sure once you run all of your content feeds into FriendFeed then those content streams are centralised on one server but FriendFeed is merely one of the latest such aggregators to have surfaced. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, don’t forget about Jaiku, Tumblr, Plaxo Pulse and even the dubious Facebook (not to mention an even more recent entrant, Social Thing!). Each of these services can perform a similar function: aggregating and streaming your multiple streams of content, whether they be blog posts, images, videos or interesting feed items. If you make use of a few of these services as distinct channels of your content then the focal point shifts from these services back to you as the originator of the content.

FriendFeed becomes one channel out of many, each of which aggregates the content you posted to the source service (for example, Flickr, Vimeo and your blog). Your content is not centralised on FriendFeed, FriendFeed is one distribution channel for that content. The idea of a data silo just doesn’t fit with this model. Sure you don’t exactly own your FriendFeed page the way you own/control a page you set up on your own server or a hosted service but how important is that model of ownership when you remain the owner of your content and can distribute it on any similar lifestreaming service?

The “centralised me” is exactly that. I am the focal point, the centre of my lifestreaming experience on the Web. FriendFeed is just one of half a dozen vehicles I could use at any time and perhaps even use at the same time.

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Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid


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