Save us from the freaky evil FriendFeed!

By Mark O’Neill

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother with all the technophobes of this world.

I’ve been working on the internet exclusively for the past two years now. This makes for some very interesting conversation at dinner parties when someone asks me what I “do”. I’m sure you’ve had the same problem explaining what you do for a job. You have the doctor explaining the latest rectal examination technique, the lawyer bragging about the latest billion dollar lawsuit they’ve just won, the businessman giving you the ups and downs of the NASDAQ…..then they turn to me and I start talking about the unfairness of the new Digg algorithim. Is it me or is everyone fidgeting? Why is that woman looking at her watch? Why is the lawyer holding the butter knife as if he wants to use it as a murder weapon?

I try to explain the websites I work for and the inner workings of the internet, but then you see their eyes glaze over, their heads slumping forward, the edges of their mouth quivering as they try to feign interest….when I finally stop, they snap out of their trance, wipe the drool from their mouth and then repeat “yes but what do you DO? What is your OCCUPATION?”. I sigh, give up and start twittering with my cellphone under the table. Meanwhile I hear the rectal examination doctor mutter “unemployed….I knew it!”

Well a new site has started up called FriendFeed and web workers around the world are happier because Friendfeed allows people who are highly active on the web to pull together all of their web activity into one place. So next time someone asks me “what do you DO?”, I can give them this webpage address and say “look there, this is what I do. This is my world. These are the pages I work for, these are the pages I visit, these are the people I work with, talk with, network with. Come step into my Batcave – if you dare!”. I’m thinking of getting business cards made.

But as usual, the technophobes are up in arms about the Friendfeed concept. Despite having a lot of geek internet friends, I also have a lot of friends who think the internet is evil (I know, poor souls). They have the internet solely to check email from their bank manager and stock portfolio manager and no more. I’m sure you know the sort. They treat the internet as if it’s a ticking time bomb (“Quick!” they scream, “check the ’email thing’ then GET OFF!!!”). When they switch on the computer, they think that the computer will self-destruct in 60 seconds, Mission Impossible-style. The sort of people who would watch the Terminator movies, see Skynet “become self-aware” and then refuse to switch the internet on for months afterwards thinking that checking the movie schedules on Yahoo would be enough to trigger Judgment Day.

One of my elderly friends thinks Friendfeed “is freaky”. He spent ages trying to convince me that there was something sinister in the fact that the site knew “exactly where I was on the internet at all times” (‘It’s following you!’) and it knew exactly when to update itself. I tried telling him that I was telling Friendfeed myself all my details but he wouldn’t listen. “The internet is intelligent – and evil!! – the end of the world!”. Hang on, let me get my tin-foil hat on.

So if you can risk an evil and intelligent internet starting the end of the world, I highly recommend Friendfeed. You can aggregate many aspects of your online life into one page and one RSS feed. You can follow your friends and you can also have everything emailed to you. You can then have your page ready for when someone haughtily asks you what you “do”.

You can even set up imaginary friends for people you want to follow but who don’t have Friendfeed accounts. Imagine that – imaginary friends! You can be five years old again.

7 Responses to Save us from the freaky evil FriendFeed!

  1. FriendFeed's a godsend. I used to maintain a web page that was nothing but badges and links to all the places to find me online. FriendFeed replaced that and more. I don't check the feeds coming down from my friends on there very often. Usually I'm busy enough with information coming through from Twitter or my RSS feeds. If those run dry though, I'm sure to find more information to digest on FriendFeed.

  2. To each his own right? :P

    But the idea of creating imaginary friends is somehow freaky. Why call it imaginary if it will just be another amalgam of feeds you want to keep track of in the web?

  3. Never heard of this, FriendFeed. I might make use of it yet.

    And I know where you're coming from. Whenever I tell people I spend my spare time blogging and what not, they look at me as though I'm a freak. I might be, but that's not the point.

  4. Never heard about FriendFeed either, but I'm not such an active blogger like yourself.

    However I do recognize myself in your situation. I'm a student informatics at university and I find that not many people know what informatics is. They usually think of their local computer guy fixing their Windows, instead of an actual field of science and mathematics.

    It's easier to say "I study chemistry" or "I study biology", because most people have an idea about what those fields of science are. Explaining what informatics is, is another story. Most of the time I just have to tell the technophobes "I work with computers". :p

    • Well….I suppose so. It depends on your definition of a social network. Its main purpose is to collect all your online activity and bring it together under one umberella and also to monitor your friends online activity. If you want to call that a social network then it is one. :-)

  5. if you think friendfeed is evil, set your blog up with the disqus account for your comments, hook into your FF and BAM! try explain that to some lawyer or doctor while they aRe holding a knife!

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