Stop the FriendFeed vs. SocialThing Madness They’re Different

Apples & OrangesUp until now I’ve watched this battle rage from afar, shaking my head as I read most of the posts and comments that fueled it. The only reason these two services are being compared is because they are both Lifestreaming services that hit the limelight at the same time.

The fact is that these are 2 of the most different Lifestreaming services out there. FriendFeed could be compared to many other Lifestreaming services out there, but SocialThing is not one of them.

As I watch so many new comers posting, commenting, & podcasting in the blogosphere it’s easy to see that most of them just haven’t spent the time necessary to learn about Lifestreaming and don’t yet get it. They see this new trend to jump on, but start to run before they learn to walk.

Tweet from user Araceli
at least Twitter user Araceli gets itPart of the problem is that Lifestreaming isn’t a well defined term and means different things to different people. At its core it’s about Social Network Aggregation, both our own and our friends. But beyond that there are many layers that can be added to the onion that take it into different areas.

Let me explain the major differences between the two.

SocialThing is aimed at providing you a central dashboard, keeping themselves transparent in the process.

  • Imports your friends already made at the social networks you add
  • Imports the content generated by friends imported automatically
  • Allows posting content to external social networks
  • Can’t add friends within their service. Need to add them at social network source
  • Can’t comment or “favorite” content

On the other hand FriendFeed is trying to build a community on top of the social network aggregation users provide. Here are the features they offer towards that goal:

  • Only allows addition of friends within their service
  • Can Comment on imported items (data lives on FriendFeed)
  • Can “Like” (flag as favorite) imported items (data lives on FriendFeed)
  • Can’t automatically import friends already made on the social networks added (means you also won’t see the content they create)
  • Offers creation of “imaginary friend” which allows manual import of friends and data from their social networks

Now keep in mind that this is based on functionality available today. Either service could easily morph into the other’s territory over time, and we will see many variations on the goals of Lifestreaming services change in the future.

So if you’ve been following Lifestreaming services for a while you could see that these 2 couldn’t be any more different than the majority of the other ones out there.

There are some battles brewing over services creating decentralized content away from the content source. I recently wrote about that. Many users are bothered that there are external eco systems forming that they have no way of knowing about. FriendFeed is currently taking this approach. One of the advantages is that you can comment on content without being a member of the social network it came from. I think that’s a big benefit of being part of their community.

On the other hand SocialThing appears to be focusing on being a transparent dashboard for bi-directional communication between the users and their social network sources. That’s currently limited to posting on the service but I’m sure commenting and other data points are coming next. That is great for a user who already has all their friends at each of these social networking sources and doesn’t need or want to add yet another social network layer.

So as you can see these are two very different approaches to Lifestreaming. I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other. Choosing one is a matter of what you want from your Lifestream, and in many cases, you would use both. I am someone who falls into that category. Of course that’s because it’s my job as Chief Lifestreaming Evangelist here at the Lifestream Blog.

Interview: Socialthing! Founder Matt Galligan at ReadWriteWeb by Muhammad Saleem. Matt discusses the differences between SocialThing and FriendFeed.

16 thoughts on “Stop the FriendFeed vs. SocialThing Madness They’re Different”

  1. Very good post, exactly my sentiment. I’ve been trying to convey that for a while now whenever I happened upon articles dealing with FF vs. Socialthing. I touched upon that a few weeks back on my own blog too (shameless plug, haha), but it seems that people tend to not actually try out the services they’re writing or ranting about. Thus, they couldn’t care less about vital differences like the ones you’ve pointed out above.

    Nice to see that at least the lifestreamblog cares.

  2. Wow, this was really necessary for quite a while – thanks for clarifying this, Mark!

    I have to admit I follow this whole ‘one vs. the other thing’ just shaking my head, because both sites do a good job. Anyway it’ll be interesting to see which concept wins more fans over time.

    Btw: will be offering the best of both worlds with its beta 2 release coming soon. That way we leave the door open for the usage scenario the user feels best with. As I understood this will be the ideal service for you. Hope to see you there :).

  3. @Richard: If you haven’t received an invite code yet, please bare with us for a few more days. With the beta 2 release we’re gonna send out a invites to everyone who’s on the list right now.

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  5. One thing they do have in common is that both aggregates only your public data, so private msgs are not included.
    I use 8hands for my aggregation.
    It’s a totally different service, but it has some similarities that makes it good enough for me to use exclusively and pass over friendfeed and socialthing.

  6. Actually Mike, Socialthing! DOES grab private data, private messages, private photos, all that. Hence how we can do Facebook in the first place.

    Just wanted to give you a heads up…

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