life stream aggregators vs. standard social networking

Dylan Fuller (from A Fuller View which I highly recommend subscribing to) commented on an earlier post asking what was the difference between life stream aggregators do and standard social networking – and even more importantly should he join them.

My short answer, was not right now. Here is the more longwinded answer!

Firstly, life stream aggregators vs standard social networking. Let’s list some of each to start with:

Standard Social Networks:
1. Facebook
2. Bebo
3. MySpace

Life Stream Aggregators
1. FriendFeed
2. Tumblr
3. Social Thing

If you look at the standard social networks they all offer pretty much the same thing with different emphases (MySpace was music, Facebook was connecting with friends). Here are some of the things they offer:

1. Ability to connect to friends
2. Photos
3. Public (and private) messaging
4. Status updates
5. News feed of events (usually) done by your friends.

Amongst Internetphiles, people have been moving more and more away from Facebook and towards individual specialised services and until recently there has been nothing to bring it all together.

Life stream Aggregators brings many of the different items (and more) listed above into one feed for all your friends across the web and across services. The real problem is one of scale.

It has one single feed and treats everyone the same. The feed gives so much information that you can never keep up with everything – and worse most of the information is not relevant. It suffers from the same issue as Twitter – if you follow too many people you lose the value of the service. What is needed is a way of saying I want to see in my main feed photos, news, mutterings from Group X, and only shared items and posts from Group Y. Even better I want to be able to have multiple feeds. Once this starts to happen, this could become a great tool to manage your attention data (ie see what you need to see at the right time).

In the meantime, if you are using specialised online services such as Twitter, Flickr, You Tube, Seesmic etc it is worthwhile keeping an eye on life stream aggregators (especially Friendfeed and Tumblr) and even worth trying with a small group of close friends.

On a separate note – I wonder when email will get integrated into this stream..