Wanna Chat? Check out Pip.io

There are so many places to hang out on the Web. There are the big two: Facebook  and Twitter . There are other larger planets in the solar system, like LinkedIn  and MySpace , as well as countless other satellites that revolve around these two, such as Google Buzz ,  Plaxo , Friendfeed , Plurk , etcetera.

So, you probably aren’t thinking right now: “Gee, where can I spend even more of my on-line time publishing, communication and connecting?”  But maybe you should.

Check out Pip.io (link here). It is a relatively recent social tool that just came out of beta last month. More than a social network, Pip.io  calls itself a “social operating system.” I call it Google Wave  for the masses. Pip.io’s format is very chat-like – you create your profile and then set your “availability” for your connections to see. When you communicate via Pip.io, you can set your parameters narrowly (e.g. a private chat with a single individual) or broadly (a public broadcast to all friends of Facebook and Twitter and YouTube). You can also “target” someone’s stream with a post: not quite private but focused communication intended for a specific user or group. Pip.io gives you tools to be both efficient and private in your web communications at the same time. Sort of like your own dashboard for your social web communication.

Just this weekend, a Twitter friend was telling me that he communicates differently on different platforms, that he holds back more on Facebook because the audience dictates more discretion. With Pip.io, you can set who sees what across platforms by creating groups for certain types of communications, thereby eliminating concern with your degree of sharing.

But that is not all. You can form rooms and invite others to join you to discuss or share on topics. There is also a video chat feature. Pip.io has its own version of a retweet – you can reshare within Pip.io or send the content forth to your own social outposts. “Friending” on Pip.io is like Twitter and Friendfeed, where you can follow anyone without their express agreement or any obligation to follow you back.

I still struggle with Twitter as a communication platform. I agree as well with my Twitter friend that my Facebook population does not promote the same “free” communication I might employ elsewhere. If your desire is to streamline your communication on-line, to implement better channeling and discussion, and break down boundaries to that discussion, Pip.io may well be the best option. At the least, it affords a simple “one stop” locale for managing chat, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube activity. At the most, it appears to provide a true communication forum for social interaction.

Check it out. I would love to hear what you think.

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Facebook for Bloggers

Twitter tends to be touted as the number one place to promote a blog. But what about Facebook? Wouldn’t your friends and any number of the over 400 million users be interested in your content? Why not leverage Facebook to get your blog noticed?

There are plenty of applications within Facebook to help you toward this end. My personal favorite is Networked Blogs (link here)  – you can see my widget in the right-hand sidebar on this blog. My Networked Blogs app is also promoted on my Facebook Profile and on the AdvantageAdvocates’ business page. You can list your own blog within the application, people can subscribe to your blog and receive news feed updates when new posts are generated and you can subscribe to other interesting blogs. Comment, like and share using Facebook functionality. Easy way to stay up to date on your favorite feeds right within the Facebook environment.

But there are other applications. Facebook Notes (link here) was my original tool for feeding my blog into Facebook. You can set up Notes to accept your RSS feed from your blog and every time a new post is generated, it will create a new Note within Facebook for all of your friends to see. Downside is that it is limited to your friends, while Networked Blogs allows subscription by anyone. But, Notes is indeed a quick, simple method for showcasing your blog posts.

If you are already feeding your blog entries into Twitter and Friendfeed, you can take advantage of Facebook’s Twitter (link here) and Friendfeed (link here) applications to auto-update your feed or status with the new entries.  The upside is that these syncs are great tools for automating and streamlining your content publication. Downside is the potential for annoying your Facebook friends with excessive entries if you are a heavy-duty Twitter or Friendfeed user.

Although it appears not to be a fully active feature, just Tuesday the tech pundits were all a-Buzz (or a-Twitter depending upon your soc-med of choice) about a new feature on Facebook called “Promote This Post.” It appears to be a spot advertising option whereby you can pay to have a particular post promoted within the Facebook ad scheme.

Clicks are measured and payments are based on clicks. It appears to have been directed at Facebook Page admins and was not universally rolled out. If it ever does roll out, however, it could serve as a very effective means of targeting your message to a potentially interested audience. You can find out more about this feature over at WebProNews (link here).

Managing Your Buzz with Buzzzy Search

Love it or hate it, Google Buzz continues to capture attention. And with a huge built-in user base from the get-go, the content production continues to be prolific, even it if has slowed from its initially furious pace. The laundry list of improvements requested by users is quite long, but there is one that can be checked off. Configurable search.

Google Buzz does have its own search function, but it is quite simplistic. Buzzzy (link here) is its own, standalone search engine for Buzz and other services. Located at buzzzy.com, you can access Buzz content using a traditional search box from their site without navigating your Gmail inbox.  Buzzzy pulls results from Twitter and Friendfeed, Google Reader, Flickr and Live Journal and many other sources I didn’t recognize. Results are returned in chronological order or as close to it as the combination of posts and comments will allow. There are filtering options too, which makes it superior to Buzz’s own search function. And you can subscribe to an RSS feed of your search results so you can stay on top of your topic du jour.

Here is a sample search results screen for search terms apple ipad. Note the results filters along the left side:

Check out Buzzzy. You might like it.

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More On Google Buzz

Announced it yesterday, test-drive it today. I like that kind of instant gratification. I have been playing around with Buzz for the last hour or so. Do you use Gmail? Do you have a Google Profile? Just go to your Gmail inbox and you will see a little “buzz” icon right below your inbox button.

Clicking on it will take you into the Buzz stream composed of people you follow already in Google Reader or have contact with via your Gmail. The very first Buzz pane includes a little welcome to the service:

There is a standard status box at the top to be used for creating a new Buzz pane. But you can also email your post to buzz@gmail.com. You also can use the @ convention from Twitter to send a Buzz directly to a certain person. If you already have created groups in Gmail / GReader, you can send your Buzz to specific groups, via a drop down box in the Buzz pane.

You can connect external sites to Buzz, allowing it to serve as a social aggregator of sorts. When you do so, the experience starts to look a LOT like Friendfeed. You can comment on and “like” Buzzes, just as in GReader. The serial Buzz panes from your follows with likes and comments closely mirror the Friendfeed experience. In fact, Friendfeed is one of the external sites that you can import into Buzz.

As I post this, I am watching the number of new “Buzzes” in the GMail tab grow. In the past minute, over 20 new Buzzes have appeared. This kind of volume is certainly expected on the service’s first day – it will be interesting to see if the number tapers off as the shine dulls.

Once you comment or like a Buzz, subsequent updates will appear in your inbox. There are ways to silence the inevitable onslaught – there is a mute switch for posts that are particularly busy. You can turn Buzz off completely at the bottom of the screen. You always also can set up a filter for Buzz updates that routes them to another folder separate from the inbox.

I haven’t played with the location features yet, but I understand that you can get Buzz information when you point your mobile browser to buzz.google.com. Updates can be tagged with your location and you can see other Buzz posts from nearby.

My early impression is that it is an interesting marriage of email and Friendfeed. Not necessarily a bad thing, although I balk a bit at the mixing of my information sources – I am not completely convinced my email and my social networking should be intermingling in the same venue. They still serve different functions for me. Like Wave, Google may be trying to accomplish too much with a single application. Nonetheless, I am intrigued by the possibilities. If I can get over the learning curve of Buzz, it theoretically could collapse down my list of places I visit on a regular basis.

Oops. Now there are over 50 more unread Buzzes showing in the tab. Gotta go!

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The Buzz About Google Buzz

I have been periodically checking live blogs on Google’s big event today just to get a gander at Google’s new toy, rumored to be a Twitter-Facebook-social media killer of epic proportion. The news so far? Enter Google Buzz.

Google Buzz is incorporated right into your Gmail inbox and can be accessed by a tab. As pulled from Techcrunch’s live blog, the five main features of Google Buzz are:

1) Auto-following. We didn’t want users to have to peck out a totally new social graph. There has always been a giant social network under Gmail. You auto-follow the people you email and chat with the most.

2) Rich, fast sharing experience. Same nice Gmail UI and keyboard shortcuts. Special attention to media.

3) Public and private sharing. We want things Google can index, but also private messages.

4) Inbox integration. The inbox is the center for communication.

5) Just the good stuff. Some much social data, we need to filter the noise.

Buzz incorporates a new photo viewer and a pane that looks a whole lot like Friendfeed. You can view your follows (who have been auto-followed in Buzz by virtue of you having previously communicated with them in Gmail). Posts can be made public or private (very interesting).  Conversations in Buzz can be generated from emails and they fit right within the inbox. It also incorporates the “@” convention from Twitter.  Same keyboard shortcuts that work in Gmail work in Buzz. There is also a recommended “friend of a friend” feature – gee, that sounds an awful lot like Friendfeed too.

Buzz has mobile counterparts too, for Android and iPhone. It’s all about location. When viewing Google.com on your mobile browser, clicking on Buzz will feed you back location data. You can use your voice to input via this mobile format. There is a streaming view of Buzz information and a Buzz-related updates layer for Google Maps with geotagging.

Buzz looks to be another approach to communication and conversation from Google. I will check back in and update when I find out more. In the meantime, check out Techcrunch’s live blog (link here) and watch the next big tech tool roll out of the starting gate.

A Big Day for Google. Big. Day.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

For those interested in search, today was a little of the Christmas-come-early variety. Google announced a group of new features that may well change how humans interact with news on the Web and on their mobile phones.

Starting with the star of the show, Google unveiled its long anticipated real-time search. Following partnerships with Facebook, MySpace, Friendfeed, Jaiku, Identi.ca, and Twitter, the new Google results page will show the traditional popular items along with the latest breaking items from the real-time Web. This will allow searchers to view both the most popular items as well as tweets, blog posts, and news items as they are published. Check out the sample screen shot from the Google blog:

Clicking “latest” in search options brings the goods. “Latest” will work in conjunction with Google Trend’s hot topics as well. It is not yet available to everyone, but keep a look out – it will be rolled out very, very soon.

That’s not all. Mobile is all the rage and is only becoming more popular and ubiquitous. Google recognizes this reality and has been developing fantastic mobile information tools to make search even more powerful. Google also has been banking on moving computing firmly into the atmosphere.

Google Voice is not new, but Google reaffirmed its commitment to voice search today and introduced search capability in Japanese.  Google also announced plans to move voice search way into the future with automatic translation across languages simultaneous with the search function.

Next, to compliment “My Location”, real-time traffic and turn by turn navigation, Google is looking to leverage location functionality by returning information about your surroundings. It’s called “What’s Nearby” on Google Maps, found on Android 1.6 or later. Soon, this function will be available on iPhone via a “Near me now” button. Not quite as soon, but in the new year, the results will also show local product inventory and location-specific search terms.

Finally, and perhaps the most geeky-tech-worthy announcement of the day, enter Google Goggles, for mobile phones. Take a picture with the phone camera and Google will match the image to its own massive databases and return relevant information about the object. It currently works for landmarks, art objects and products. Goggles is for Android, but undoubtedly will expand as it is developed. Sounds a bit like augmented reality, search style.

You can check out more about Google Real Time here.

You can check out more about Google Mobile here.

While kudos goes to Google for pushing the search envelope even further and rushing the future, the real win here goes to the users! I can’t wait.

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All A-Glitter And Not Twitter? Welcome to The Facebook

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Image via CrunchBase

Twitter – the buzzword among the general populace for all things social media and social networking – also appears to be the measuring stick against which all other services are judged. This is not surprising when the likes of Oprah and CNN are extolling your benefits. The why of it has to reside, at least in part, in its novelty among services – a simple interface and easy-to-grasp concept – micro proclamations in 140 characters or less. There are few bells and whistles, practically none developed by Twitter itself. With the help of third party applications, Twitter can be experienced virtually real-time and offers a platform for broadcasting and a tool for fishing for new connections. Love it or hate it, Twitter has all the goods for expanding your on-line kingdom, in both a professional and personal sense.

Readers of the Studio will know how I feel about rival Friendfeed – a much smarter, better-equipped pipeline for aggregating in one space the social content developed elsewhere (as well as on Friendfeed itself). The news of Friendfeed’s sale to a bigger fish in the proverbial ocean brought to my mind images of Darwinism and feelings of cautious pessimism . Who was going to replace Friendfeed and offer a viable, attractive alternative to the rabble-ous din of the Twitter-verse?

Hello Facebook. Twitter-fast interaction and Facebook would not have been my word pair of choice in the association game even a week ago. But developments over the past few months, peaking with Friendfeed’s acquisition a little more than a month ago, and a trio of interesting announcements yesterday have given Facebook a game-changing presence.

Many presumed Facebook’s purchase of Friendfeed was about snaring its all-star team of developers responsible for its smart, real-time experience. Today it is clear that Facebook is rolling out changes that herald the duel and draw the line between the two giants of the on-line social world.

Facebook is the brainchild of Harvard alum Mark Zuckerberg. It started as student network, with a walled garden approach and invitation-only mechanism for connecting. In the early days, you had to be a member of a recognized school, with a valid e-mail ID associated with the institution. Facebook garnered impressive numbers nonetheless: in 2005, studies showed 85% of students had accounts with 60% of them logging in daily.

Fast-forward to 2009. Now, anyone age 13 and older can create a profile and join the fun and there are more than 250 million users doing just that, with more than a billion monthly visits across users.

So what is it that you do do on Facebook? You can join, connect with friends and peers and create groups. You can maintain your profile with information-building questions and ongoing content development, such as notes, photos, videos, and many other applications. You can join networks defined by school, geographic region, business, non-profit organizations, etc. There are plenty of places for interaction on Facebook, including the Wall (a bulletin board for posting notes, either by the user or others), photo albums, status updates, an email-like inbox and chat. The News Feed offers a rolling, real-time highlights reel of friends’ status updates, important events, profile changes and other information and often serves as the site’s main hang-out. Add to this gifts, games, quizzes, bizarre applications, the Marketplace, advertising, and the experience becomes quite jarring.

Facebook has been sensitive to this impression and, over the past year, has been making changes to the interface to clean up the look. The consolidation of feeds and Wall on a user’s profile, the introduction of real-time flow in the News Feed, the offering of URLs incorporating your user name have all improved the Facebook experience.

Facebook has quietly become a venue for business networking and development over the past year. A social media report I prepared for a client discussing the business applications and tools hosted on Facebook incorporates a healthy list of on-site features for improving relations and getting it done. A recent influx of legal professionals on Facebook extending invitations to connect tells me that people are noticing these changes.

Yesterday, Facebook started to roll out changes that give voice to its rationale for acquiring Friendfeed and its direction for the future. The most visible change is the introduction of Facebook Lite (www.lite.facebook.com), which streamlines the user experience immensely. Right now, it is only available in India and the United States. Apps and extras are gone from the page. The navigation and information along the left column of the News Feed are gone and the status box has been replaced with buttons. The new interface works on your profile page too. The only other options along the top are Events and Inbox. Four tabs along the left allow the user to select Wall, Info, Friends and Photos & Video.

The other announcements include a more obvious move: users can now “status-tag” other users with the familiar “@” symbol found on Twitter. Status tagging will allow you to link to a friend’s profile. From the Facebook blog:

Now, when you are writing a status update and want to add a friend’s name to something you are posting, just include the “@” symbol beforehand. As you type the name of what you would like to reference, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to choose from your list of friends and other connections, including groups, events, applications, and (fan) pages.

The third change is Facebook’s announcement yesterday that it was open-sourcing Friendfeed’s real-time technology, called Tornado, bringing its stellar tech to the world in an open-sourcing move. In a geeky, but fascinating read, Bret Taylor, one of the main Friendfeed developers, describes Tornado and the move to open source in a post found here.

They can’t help it: the tech writers are throwing the Twitter comparisons around like so many feathers in the wind from an exploding pillow. Obviously, use of the “@” symbol is a direct shot across the bow. And Facebook Lite’s interface does resemble Twitter’s appearance, with its faster, cleaner, leaner, meaner look. Early reviewers seem to be positively embracing the new style and I count myself among them.

Tastes great? Less filling? More attractive to business networkers who cringed every time they were invited to take a quiz, quaff an imaginary beverage or don a “button”?

I think Twitter has much to think about in the wake of yesterday’s news.

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Feeding Your Quest for Shared Knowledge with Feedly

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Image via CrunchBase

Part two of an impromptu two-part series on my latest content browsing and sharing tools focuses on Feedly. Feedly is a Firefox add-on developed in 2008 and seemingly in a constant state of growth and innovation. Feedly aggregates your RSS and shared content and follows you around the web so that you can easily gauge the discussion from pretty much anywhere you go. Describing itself: “Feedly is a Firefox extension which weaves twitter and Google Reader into a magazine like experience.” The “win” part for content gathering is that Feedly will “read” your interests and attempt to float the cream to the top of the list for you.

Up front is a slick magazine-like interface that is easy to navigate, expand, share from and comment upon with real-time aspects. Feedly highlights material deemed most relevant based on your interests, reading patterns and recommendations from friends. It pulls articles from Google Reader, with the ability to add feeds directly into your Feedly. It pulls your friends and other information from other social sites, such as Twitter, Yahoo, Gmail and Friendfeed.

Feedly attempts to suggest and refine your information based on the data it can pull and the preferences you can enter. Along the left side of the home page are buttons to change the view – cover, digest and latest. Each show similar information in different aspects and focus. Cover offers the greatest breadth, with the top few stories from your various feed categories in a series of columns at the top, the number of new articles from your featured sources list, a video gallery based on your interests, your Twitter stream and mentions, your “karma” (more on that later), and a suggested Twitter search item. Flickr photos grace the bottom.

Digest offers a long list of articles with a blurb in a single column, with your featured sources and less Twitter information along the right side, as well as the video and Flickr gallery. Latest looks a whole lot like Google Reader showing the titles only of posts in reverse chronological order, but with a cleaner interface and pretty much nothing else.

Here is a screen shot showing the top portion of my Cover view:

feedly cover

Setting changes are made from your dashboard, via the access button at the top of the home page. Feedly strongly suggests grouping and organizing your feeds in categories to maximize the experience. Changes made in Feedly will be applied to Google Reader and vice versa. My Google Reader categories were sucked into Feedly automatically.

Use the “favorite” button – a star next to a feed title – to mark your best sources so that these items can be highlighted on your page. You can even assign views for each feed, depending on how you prefer to see the information from a particular source: titles only; title and summary; picture grid; video grid; and, entire content inlined. Much of the housekeeping in Feedly can be easily accomplished with drag-and-drop, so it is easy to set up and subsequently change your viewing experience, albeit a somewhat time-consuming process.

The articles are equipped with buttons to like and share. This adds value to your own experience by tailoring subsequent information coming to you and adds value to your social network by offering articles of interest to them. When you expand an article by clicking on its title, you will see more of the article, as well as buttons for keeping the article unread, highlighting semantic metadata, previewing and copying the link. The semantic metadata button will highlight semantic concepts in the article, providing background information in a pop-up on the concept and offer  a link out to more fully explore that particular concept in Feedly from your sources, news, Twitter + Friendfeed and across the web. You will also see how many recommendations the article has and a list of buttons to share on Twitter, Delicious, Friendfeed, Gmail, Facebook and in both Feedly and Google Reader with a note. At the bottom of the expanded article, you will see the how many times it was clicked on in the Tweet stream, Friendfeed conversations, and the likes and comments the article has garnered in Google Reader and Feedly.

You can keep track of what your friends are sharing and what they are saying about the articles you share in your Feedly. Karma is a section of the cover that shows you how people react to the material that you share. It shows what you have liked and shared. It also shows the number of clicks on the item and where else it has been shared.

You can find all of your shared and saved items easily from a button on the left of the main screen. You also can pull your recent history. All of these are great features to help you track where you have been and what you are doing and where you might like to return in the future.

Another VERY cool feature of Feedly is Ubiquity integration. I have written about Ubiquity on the Studio before, praising it for streamlining and integrating web services with quick keyboard clicks. Just install the latest version of Feedly and the latest version of Ubiquity to start using and generating your own commands. Feedly also integrates Google search, via a bar at the top of the your home screen.

Feedly can shadow your wanderings as well. As you work your way around the web, a little Feedly mini bar shows up at the bottom of the screen showing how many times the site has been shared on other sites, like Friendfeed and allowing you to share or save the article in Feedly or Google Reader, share on Twitter, email using Gmail and navigate to another article that Feedly will suggest based on your interests and prior likes and shares. Here is a great image diagramming the mini tool-bar from Sarah Perez’s article on the subject at ReadWriteWeb:

Feedly Mini (ReadWriteWeb)(edited)The Feedly mini toolbar knows if an article has been a popular subject on Friendfeed. If so, a pop-up will show up with a bit of the conversation, allowing you to jump over to the conversation on Friendfeed and join in. All of these features can be selected / deselected.

Your personalized Feedly can be accessed from multiple machines, provided they also are running Firefox.

Feedly is all about tailoring your news sources and making them easier to scan, read and share. To say it is an all-encompassing experience might be an understatement. I find that Feedly has completely supplanted my Google Reader-ing with its easier-to-review look and NASCAR pit crew-sized box of tools. And Feedly seems ravenous about evolving and becoming more, better, faster, stronger, able to leap tall buildings in single bounds, etc.  If you don’t have Feedly or Firefox, you definitely owe it to yourself to make the switch!

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Friendfeed for Lawyers

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I have had a love affair with Friendfeed for more than six months now. Upon joining the aggregator / streaming service, I immediately used its tools to find and follow the people I had already connected with on other services. One of my services, Twitter, utilizes a follow list that is 90% lawyers. So I was pleased to find that a healthy number of these tech-aware lawyers had found Friendfeed before me, opened an account and were feeding already. I followed them all.

I quickly learned that the lawyers I follow on Friendfeed primarily send in their Twitter tweets and, maybe, a blog entry and, if they are really avant-guarde, some Google Reader items. There was no interaction between these lawyers and others on Friendfeed and their material quickly sped through the feed and was soon forgotten. So, I asked myself, why are these lawyers on Friendfeed?

The better question is: why should these lawyers be on Friendfeed? Consider this humble post a primer on Friendfeed, what it is and and the value it represents.

A good place to start is an explanation of what Friendfeed is. At its heart, Friendfeed is indeed an aggregator of one’s on-line content, a place to feed into a single stream all of the material one creates and shares on-line. The list of shareable items is exhaustive – take a look at the screenshot below and remember that Friendfeed is adding services all the time.

Friendfeed services

Needless to say, one can paint a thorough picture of one’s on-line life using Friendfeed as an aggregator.

Why aggregate? You can use Friendfeed as a personal content scrapbook, a one-stop shopping destination for all of your on-line hang-outs. You can find all of your Delicious links, your blog posts, your Stumbles, your Twitter posts in one space. You can find your Amazon likes, your Facebook and Linkedin statuses, your Google reader items and even your Pandora favorites. You can post video likes from YouTube and personal video conversations from Seesmic.

With respect to Twitter posts, a key benefit of Friendfeed that beats Twitter is the ability to easily search or filter your Twitter entries with a simple click of a button and ALL of your tweets will appear. On Twitter, you have to rely on a semi-reliable search function and tweets are only archived for a few days.

Click on your Friendfeed name and you will see your entire stream of on-line activity. And, for most services, your on-line content shows up fairly quickly in the Friendfeed stream. Finally, it bears noting that Google searches like Friendfeed almost as much as they like Twitter: Hutch Carpenter explains his own experiment with the rankings that a Friendfeed entry can obtain in Google on his blog here.

But Friendfeed is far more than just aggregation of your own content. To truly dive into the Friendfeed experience, a Friendfeeder should seek out others to follow and, hopefully, encourage them to follow back. Sound Twitter-familiar? It is and it isn’t. Friendfeed is where the real conversations and information-sharing occur, once you convince others that you are a worthy conversation partner. It takes some time and definitely some effort to connect with other Friendfeeders. The experience, however, is vastly superior to Twitter and worth the effort.

Friendfeed has Twitter beat as a conversation station by virtue of its better organization and interface. Friendfeed on the Web offers the key features that Twitter users can only obtain through third party tools and resource-costly desktop applications. You can group your users and pay attention to certain portions of the feed, filtered by those groups. You also can filter topics through saved searches. Check out this awesome post by Bwana on what saved searches are and how you can use them effectively. You can join existing or form new “rooms” (topic-based Friendfeed accounts) and invite other Friendfeed users to join you in those rooms (either public or private) for targeted conversations about any topic imaginable.

Friendfeed automatically “trees” conversations by allowing you to “like” and “comment” on entries that you view. Those readers who are on Facebook might recognize these features as part of Facebook’s latest overhaul – they were taken directly from Friendfeed’s model. It becomes far easier to enter and track a conversation and return for further discussion. It also becomes easier to forge connections when you can actually engage in a conversation that is so easily tracked.

How do you break into Friendfeed? First, complete your profile and import whatever services you are interested in sharing. Obviously, for a professional presence, some of your content may be less interesting or valuable than other content and your target reader should be kept in mind. Next, import your friends from other services. These include Facebook, Linkedin, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. You also can find popular users and recommended users. Search out public groups that may be of interest to you based on your professional or personal bent and subscribe to them. Then jump into the conversation.

For some more detailed tips on getting the most out of Friendfeed, I heartily recommend this article from KnowtheNetwork.

Friendfeed is at that same place in the popularity arc that Twitter occupied  a few years back – it currently is populated mostly by technology-forward types, the shining lights among tech bloggers, hard-core programmers and coders and individuals who appreciate its initially-challenging but ultimately more rewarding interface.

I am writing this post now because I recently have seen more of my Twitter friends showing up on Friendfeed and subscribing to my feed. This jump seems to have coincided with debut of the new “real-time” interface  and the loud noise the tech press made heralding the change.

Why now? Undoubtedly, those of us who spend some time on-line, particularly in the news sources, hear about the next big thing and are eager to try it, even if we don’t understand it. And that is my sense of the reason for this next wave of Friendfeed users – they want to join in, but simply are not sure what to make of Friendfeed.

A few months back, I sought feedback from my Twitter lawyer friends as to why they were on Friendfeed when they were simply feeding in tweets and not fully exploiting its value. The short answer I received from those kind enough to respond was just that – these people were not sure what it was or how it could be used to their advantage.I just listened to a very recent podcast by two tech luminaries in the legal world discussing Friendfeed. These are people well-respected by other lawyers for their opinions on tech matters. I was only slightly surprised to hear that these individuals were themselves unsure of what Friendfeed was and what it could do for them and whether it really was worth it to spend time on yet another social site. They could sense that Friendfeed had value but could not precisely quantify what that value was.

I will not lie – Friendfeed’s learning curve is a bit steeper and longer than Twitter’s learning curve. Furthermore, with fewer people in the Friendfeed stable, it takes a bit more engagement to connect to others and achieve the level of sharing that makes Friendfeed so unique. I believe that Friendfeed will gain in prominence among professionals and the general population as more people discover and utilize its features. But those intrepid attorneys braving the uncharted waters need to engage to win here. If you only have so much time to spend on-line, don’t rule out Friendfeed – you can still track your Twitter peeps on Friendfeed and even reply to their threads on Twitter via Friendfeed with a simple setting adjustment.

Friendfeed as a marketing and business generating tool? You betcha! I have gotten the same number of leads for professional work from Friendfeed as I have from Twitter. Although the work has differed (undoubtedly due to the different audiences I follow on the two sites), the numbers read the same. Bear in mind that I am currently pushing close to 1,000 Twitter followers and have only just over 300 Friendfeed followers. You do the math. The quantity and quality of responses to my questions on Friendfeed far exceed the return from my Twitter follows. The only conclusion I can reach is that the higher the quality of connection, the better the chances that your networking will yield results. And Friendfeed offers the better connection.

You still want another benefit? Far less spammers than Twitter. Although I am sure even spammers will eventually discover it and figure out a way to break in.

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Advocate’s Studio: Traveling Under Your Radar!

I cannot express how pleased I was to discover yesterday that one of my absolute favorite blogs included the Studio on a list of Five Blogs Under The Radar: May  2009 Edition. Louis Gray is a tech blogger at his site louisgray.com where, since 2006, he has “express[ed his] personal observations on the world of technology, the Web, and innovation.” Check out his About page for the “why” of my deep appreciation for his content as well as my feeling of great honor at being included.

My impression of Mr. Gray’s blogging agenda is one of intelligence, integrity and impartiality.  He understands what his readers are looking for and why it is necessary to secure their respect. In kind, his readers do respect him and his points of view. I have cited to Mr. Gray before on the Studio and I regularly read his posts – not just to secure content leads but, more importantly, to actually learn something new and satisfy my curious nature!

Thank you, Louis, for the mention and I hope to continue providing content in the Studio that meets your high standards! And for Studio readers looking for intelligent, in-depth evaluation and analysis of tech-related subject matter — run, don’t walk, to louisgray.com.

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