Blame Twitter: Why Gillmor Has FriendFeed All Wrong

Steve Gillmor is the grumpy old man of social media, or at least as far as the Twitter vs. FriendFeed debacle is concerned. When Gillmor first started using FriendFeed, he had already made up his mind about the service. Much like the way your Grandmother has already made up her mind that computers are “just another fad”, or that anything that isn’t black and white is a blaspheme of modern media. In a recent post on TechCrunch, Steve Gillmor points the finger (you know which one I mean) at FriendFeed, blaming all of Twitter’s speed woes on the social aggregation service.

Of course Mr. Gillmor is going to think that FriendFeed is nothing more than a middle man for Twitter. Just check out his FriendFeed page for proof of that. The only services he uses on FriendFeed are RSS and of course, Twitter. If you’re only using Twitter as your major aggregation, yeah, of course FriendFeed is going to seem like a Twitter centric service.

Gillmor uses this quote to help prove his point about why Twitter is superior, and why FriendFeed would fail without it:

FriendFeed is Twitter, only slower. Here’s my demo of the difference between FriendFeed and Twitter:

Twitter: Hi, I’m having Sugar Pops for breakfast.

Ten minutes later….

FriendFeed: Hi, I’m having Sugar Pops for breakfast.

This is total hog-wash. When Twitter is up and running how it should be, at peak speed and condition, FriendFeed streams users tweets almost as fast as Twitter does. The problem here is not with FriendFeed, but with the utter inconsistency of Twitter’s API. You have to remember, anything that streams onto FriendFeed directly from Twitter is exactly proportionate to the actual reliability of Twitter and their API. If a tweet is taking 10 minutes to reach your FriendFeed stream, this is not FriendFeed’s issue. Well, it is. But more specifically it is an issue FOR FriendFeed. Not because of them. This is Twitter’s issue.

Twitter is in the process of developing a web of mistrust around their entire service. Every single third-party which relies on their API to be working full-throttle at all times is directly effected when Twitter decides to take an “unscheduled” down time for hours at a time. It’s no longer effecting only the community, but other businesses. Including FriendFeed.

And even when Twitter is down, FriendFeed is no one ponied stable. In fact, during Twit-Out, multiple users, including myself, used FriendFeed with the Twitter service disabled. And the interesting thing is that FriendFeed was even more effective WITHOUT Twitter enabled. The noise was considerably more manageable, and the interesting-to-non interesting stream ratio was significantly higher.

I mean, let’s be honest with ourselves. A lot of the time, we jut don’t have anything interesting to say. FriendFeed allows us to post about what OTHERS have said, which makes for a much more interesting conversation a lot of the time while also stirring inspiration for personal blog posts. While Twitter serves as a great distraction piece, FriendFeed has inspired ideas more blog post ideas than I’ve ever accumulated from Twitter. And culturally, FriendFeed seems to be much more relevant as a service which can be mainstream in the future.

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