Monday, July 07, 2008

Twitter versus FriendFeed: With or without the straw, does it matter?

Do you drink your milkshake with or without the straw?

Was it Rome that fell to Barbarians? The war that is being waged isn't Federer versus Nadal. It isn't Macs versus PCs. With what seems like several Internet years (just a few months in real life), the barbarians are banging on Twitter's walls. Like Rome before it, Twitter is the victim of its own success.

The Digerati--- i'm looking at you early adopters, have swarmed on Twitter. And why not? Twitter in a blink of an eye covered the China Quake as it was breaking. It was most engaging to be on it as an Extra-planetary landing of Mars Phoenix probe was happening. Twitter was instrumental to helping a guy after he was arrested. It has been used to cover Macworld and WWDC, holy of holy days for the Mac Faithful. Let's not forget how invaluable it was in such events as SXSW.

I just named a few instances. There are, I'm sure many more days when Twitter was very valuable to you. It has been such a useful service that I check it first before I go look at email.

Twitter's reliability has been so bad, like addicts we were all suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Enter the barbarians at Twitter's gate, out to challenge the reigning champ. It was after all inevitable.

Jason Calacanis' Twitter's Milkshake meet FriendFeed's straw is an awesome characterization of the differences between those two services. I encourage you to read through it, if you haven't already.

He asked several questions:

What do you think Twitter should do to fight off FriendFeed? Can they? Is it too late for Twitter to fend off FF?

why should twitter fight off FriendFeed? To me, FF is an aggregator of information. much like Google Reader (and every other newsreader), it consolidates feeds into one place.

Without the infrastructure on Twitter, what's FF? I think they both compliment each other very well. Much like what Twitterric and twirl is to twitter.

When there are myriad of vectors--- FF, I must say, is a better way to aggregate, parse comments and thus send out replies. Yet, for all the rave FF is getting, I find it rather difficult and a bit more complex than Twitter.

The beauty of Twitter for me is its inherent elegantly simple interface. I reply as much as possible to tweets sent to me, but there is no pressure to read every tweet, to respond to every tweet from both followers and following alike.

no one can. no one is expected to.

And yet, I must say, people rise to do just that and it is amazing. just look at the conversations happening, even ones that you just lurk in a corner listening to.

That's the difference, I think. People like @scobelizer and @jasoncalacanis have so many followers that it is inevitable that they get drowned in @ replies. They have to parse all that information, parse all that noise to get that one diamond--- and an aggregator like FriendFeed must seem like a Godsend.

If you're on a mac and use adium and growl you'd know how the screen goes and when i turn mine on, twitter flows like the rain. I don't mind. It is just a couple of hundred tweets. If i ever get tired of it, i'll just turn IM devices off.

People like me, I'm perfectly happy with twitter. if the whale makes an appearance, i've got other things to look into. I'll miss the conversation on twitter mind you. I miss the company and it is an awesome resource. the brain trust is simply one of the best places on the web to be on. FriendFeed, plurk, bk and others--- they're backups, to keep the amazing connections alive, you know just in case.

There are many reasons why Empires like Rome rise and fall, Barbarians by the gate notwithstanding, like being victims of their own success. Twitter has been a victim of its own success. The faster they can bring the service to full health, the better to keep the addiction going. They don't even need to fail. Twitter's been different since the outages began. Then again it doesn't matter because what's happening is that twitter's becoming an infrastructure and all these other services are forming around it to add value. Twitter's the OS and FF and the like are Apps. Calacanis put it better: Twitter's the milkshake, FF is the straw. Drink it with or without the straw, does it matter?