As I sat down to write this post, I reviewed FriendFeed to see if anything new popped up. Not surprisingly, a new post from Jeff Nolan had been shared regarding the future of RSS. Rather interesting timing considering I am thinking about replacing my RSS reader with FriendFeed, and that was my planned topic for today. Granted, Jeff is talking about the business end of things and what RSS can be used for. I am thinking along the lines of users. I use FriendFeed to review a lot of information. I see people posting blogs, commenting on blogs, sharing blog posts from Google Reader, etc. All of this information has the “recommendation” of someone I know and/or respect. This is much different than the traditional RSS reader like Bloglines, my long time favorite. In the traditional RSS reader, you need to search for the feed that you want and subscribe to it. Then, whenever you check your reader, you can see updates of your various feeds.
FriendFeed changes the subscription game. You can “subscribe” to a person’s lifestream. The more important part of this is that the lifestream includes any blogs that they include, as well as things like twitter and various social media sites. Because the social media sites and Google Reader are included, most of the feeds that you are likely to subscribe to are shared by someone at some point in your FriendFeed stream. These shares have some very important qualities. First, they come from a “trusted” source. Given that you have subscribed to the person’s feed, you obviously trust or care for the information that they are sharing. Second, you can see if people have commented or liked the post on FriendFeed. This gives a second layer of recommendation to the share. Lastly, if the share is liked or commented on enough, it keeps reappearing at the top of your feed, nagging you to read it. This gives us some level of hype for a share. This allows for the discovery of new blogs without the pain of trying to find them.
So, how does this allow me to get rid of my RSS reader? It doesn’t. However, FriendFeed has the interesting feature called “imaginary friend”. This allows you to create a FriendFeed stream from any RSS source or from any supported service. If there are some blogs that are in your RSS reader but the author has not signed up for FriendFeed, just add them as an imaginary friend. You will then see their updated posts just like anyone else that is on FriendFeed. Is this really a good idea? Maybe. For blogs it is a fantastic idea that I have already started. For news sites, it is not as useful as there will not be any social component. I have been able to review Mashable, TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb posts from FriendFeed as they have accounts there. However, putting more traditional news sites like Yahoo news or CNN just does not seem to fit as well. I am getting less news from the traditional sources, so it is probably just a matter of time.
The main thing is simplicity. Do you really want to go to one site for your normal RSS feeds, FriendFeed for “trusted” feeds, Twitter for micro-blogging and several other sites for your daily tech needs? Is there some service that I am missing that could make my life, or at least my RSS reading, simpler?