FriendFeed 2.0 is coming and it's like if the Beatles made Twitter

Written by Alex Watson

April 6, 2009 | 17:55

Tags: #techcrunch #the-beatles #the-future

I'm a bit of a fan of Twitter, but while I like the fact it keeps me in contact with friends and contacts and throws up useful links, I'm conscious of the fact that a lot of people find it ridiculous, boring or pointless. Their reasons are often pretty sound, too, and discussions with these sceptics keeps me aware of the service's problems and drawbacks.

Overall, I'm not really an evangelist for Twitter, and use it mostly because I'm just curious, and this is true of my approach to technology in general. It's important to temper enthusiasm for what's new and shiny with a degree of cynicism.

For that reason, I found TechCrunch's post about a new version of FriendFeed - a competitor to Twitter - absolutely incredible. It's a shining example of someone falling for PR hype (both for the product and for the general area of technology it operates in), which is a real danger for any technology journalist. As such I felt it needed a little commentary, and it's reproduced below for your enjoyment:

“On Friday the FriendFeed founders Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit debuted a radical redesign of the product for about 15 journalists, technologists, and Robert Scoble.”

There’s a new FriendFeed coming. Last Friday, a few tech journalists were invited to see it. I’m not sure how many people were there, as I can’t count accurately above 10. Also, I have no idea how to define what Scoble is.

“We were asked not to discuss the details until Monday morning at 9AM Pacific.”

People have heard of FriendFeed, and TechCrunch isn’t important enough to be able to just ignore them like all the other fledgling Web 3.0 companies we deal with. But usually, screw em.

“I’ve been playing with the beta for the last few hours and have already come to several conclusions about what this means for the social media community and by extension enterprise computing.”

This matters people. This isn’t about just another website with a name missing some vowels. What is about? Well you just wait. I’m going to tell you.
“First, the disruption occurring around the realtime universal message bus invented by Twitter has now spread much more widely than commonly anticipated.”

So, imagine Twitter is a bus and if it travels at less than 50mph then bad stuff happens and that’s the message. The message is the bus and then, uh... look, wait, just forget about the damn bus. There is no bus.

“Twitter’s breakout in the mainstream media hints at the speed with which this technology is moving, as does Dave WIner’s (sic) fascination with harnessing Twitter while at the same time questioning the validity of a single commercial company’s dominance of the space.”

This matters people. Dave Winer said so.

“Some analysts have suggested that Twitter has moved past and consumed RSS at the center of the information machine. As newspapers and other print vehicles appear to collapse, the common concerns expressed about the permanent loss and funding of the fourth estate ignore the rise of a superclass of information creation. What some call the fallow ego-driven spew of the Warholian elites is more likely to be seen in the rear view mirror as something more akin to body painting and ultimately jazz.”

Twitter is like a lion. It can eat on the run, and it’s eating RSS. Right now. Remember the bus? Well, the bus isn’t Twitter. The bus is paper and other print vehicles. And they’re collapsing. And you know why? You know why? Because they’re the elites, the oppressors of the twittering bloggervating masses, and all they’re interested in is what some – and by some, I mean me – is their own ego-driven spew. Whereas bloggers, we’re interested in what really matters, what really has meaning. Ultimately, this is jazz.

“Without directly violating the embargo, what FriendFeed 2.0 suggests is the capture of the sense of the moment. Like a Kennedy press conference or the incredible rhythm trills of Lennon on the roof in Get Back, we’re seeing something electric and tangible appearing out of nothing.”

By seeing something tangible appearing out of nothing, I don’t mean right now. Because right now, we’ve got some truth bombs to drop, people.

“I dive in and swim in the current, swooping from swirl to eddy, then into direct communication and back to the world I’ve left behind for a moment. It still takes several moves to accomplish a single task, but the handwriting is on the wall and the time is near when we can pick up where we left off months ago.”

It’s like swimming, but also flying, and moving forwards through time, and then back again, and then you can blog about it. It’s amazing.

“What’s exhilirating (sic) is that the vague assumptions, arrogant exploits, twinkling of an ephemeral joke, they all are being ratified in a swirl of innovation that is dazzling in its ability to masquerade as superficial and childish.”

Ok, it might be rubbish. But the worse it gets, the more innovative it really is. Just remember that.

“How strange it is to see major corporations act like teenagers while jousting for position in the transition. The dynamics of cloud computing have unleashed a paroxysm of hardball for control of the big freakin’ webtone switch, with the phrase’s inventor reportedly facing off against his successor to protect his legacy.”

The ability to store information on a server to which you can log in over the Internet is really good. In fact, it’s so good that it’s like a spasm of really tough balls being thrown... at... the inventor of this guy who said this stuff about Sun Microsystems... and he’s... he’s coming for you. He’s coming for you Scott McNealy. He’s coming for all of us.

(Note to Arrington: Dude, I just read this over, and realised I missed the opportunity to make a really clever link between the clouds in cloud computing and the clouds in that Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. I need some rest right now, but when I wake up I swear I will add that in.)

“Whether the drama is real or window dressing for a nuts and bolts takeover is not so much the point, just as tweeting was never about what you’re doing for breakfast. What’s more truthful is that moment when someone has that flash of insight and dives through the wormhole to the moment when the like-minded take it for a ride. Like a comedy preview, when the laughs fall in the right places and the audience syncs up with the story and is carried away, so too does this realtime message bus become an irresistible force of nature.”

OK, fine, what I’ve said so far doesn’t ‘mean’ anything. But that’s not the point. That’s not what’s important. Remember the bus? The bus that was Twitter, and then it was the Fourth Estate? Well it’s back, and this time, the bus is the message. The bus is going to take us all for a ride, and it’s going to be really, really funny. I hope you’re laughing right now. Tears of JOY.

“We’re seeing a new Beatles emerging in this new morning of creativity, a series of devices and software constructs that empower us with both the personal meaning of our lives and the intuitive combinations of serendipity and found material and the sturdiness that only rigorous practice brings. The ideas and sculpture, the rendering of this supple brine, we’ll stand in awe of it as it is polished to a sparkling sheen. This is not a beta period, though each element is maturing rapidly. It’s a wave of Sully’s guiding each ship to a safe landing.”

It’s time, it’s time to make the Beatles analogy that I have woven, oh so carefully, lightly, artistically woven, into this humble blog post, clear. The bus? That’s the Magical Mystery Tour bus. The reason is that FriendFeed is new. It’s so new that it’s like the Beatles. Only instead of being four guys from England, it’s devices and software. But not devices and software. Constructs of these, because this is a pseudo-academic word that imparts a sense of importance to what I’m saying.

You might think that you’re constantly tied to your iPhone, ignoring what your friends are saying because you’re always checking Twitter, and you might stay in tagging your photos and updating Facebook rather than going out for a drink with your mates, but that people, that is only a taste of the freedom, the liberation that is coming your way. Coming your way... like a bus. A bus of truth. And not just a bus, but one made from sculpted brine. You can try this yourself by taking a can of tuna, getting rid of the tuna and pouring the brine over your hands. Don’t worry. You’ll be OK.

“This embargo is a gift, letting us feel the raised lettering on the white cover, pouring over the vibrant dissolution of one era and the brisk tart smell of the air as we start the day. What a delicious feeling, the sense of limitless possibilities even as we know everything will end only to begin again. Over and over, we hear the same wondrous realization, that building has this incredible stage where you get something roughed out and then stand back and let it tell you what it might be.”

I just finished The Great Gatsby, because I’m a writer who has written more words than I’ve read and I wanted to do something to redress that. At the end, Fitzgerald has this bit about... I don’t know, waves or something, and that’s what this is. It’s like... possibilities. There are many. Remember, living is easy, with eyes closed. You're misunderstanding all you see.
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