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Gmail inventor makes social app [FriendFeed]  (View post)

photoactive [PersonRank 10]

Monday, October 1, 2007
12 years ago8,732 views

Check out this:
friendfeed.com/about/

It's a start-up by Paul Bucheit, who made Gmail. Private beta only at the moment, but it looks like a version the sort of feed-of-your-friends thing that Google is looking into.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Heh, this is the third application today where I blindly signed up for a beta account just in case they accept me! (The others being Microsoft Office Live Workspace... long name!... and Adobe Buzzword.)

photoactive [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Ionut's been using it:
friendfeed.com/ionut
Ionut, can you report?

Martin Porcheron [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Seems rather Google-ish, once you've logged in.

For example, the Google Code tabs, the iGoogle boxes, and of course, the colours.

Oddly, it doesn't like feedburner.

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

If anyone has any invites xuanjames[put at-character here]gmail.com please!

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Woh! It's OK Bret Taylor already invited me. Thanks!

jon bradford [PersonRank 2]

12 years ago #

[Moved from "Friends Feed" – Tony]

Am sorry if this is old news, but have just had an invite to "FriendsFeed"

friendfeed.com/

This is so cool (and has all the standard google hallmarks), in an 'internet' world were you spend all your life signing up to new services – this one actually aggregates them all ...

I hope MS hasn't parted with any cash as yet, because this (I feel) shows how vunerable Facebook (etc) are with open APIs. There may be a few questions about how much FB is really worth when you starting looking at FF

jon

Armin [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Can Someone please send me an invite?

arminsemail[at]gmail.com

Martin Porcheron [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Invited :)

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

mrrix32[put at-character here]gmail.com
please? :D

RC [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Can i get one please? ramble at gmail.com

Martin Porcheron [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Done,

Apparently they'll be sent in the next day or two (although they said the same for me and it took 5 minutes).

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I'm loving this. It just brings the huge mess of my friends' feeds together in one place. It's like my Facebook News Feed but for absolutely all my friends. (I don't even have to make them join because I can recreate them as imaginary friends...) And the FriendFeed team are really quick to respond on the Google Group too. I've gotta say that I'm pretty damn impressed so far...

Martin Porcheron [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

It took them 2 minutes to reply to my post on the group :D

The Facebook app is also handy as it posts everything to your Facebook news feed meaning you don't have to have individual apps for each network/product.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Indeed it is. I've already got it installed... :-)

Josue R. [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

invite please. josue [insert at symbol] josuemedia [.com]

Eytan Buchman [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Might as well go for the invite too. Any kind signs in the mood to hit me up at eytan [at] backyardmarchingband [dawtt] kom?

Martin Porcheron [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Done and Done :)

>> Apparently they'll be sent in the next day or two (although
>> they said the same for me and it took 5 minutes).

Eytan Buchman [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Infinite thanks.

Above 19 comments were made in the forum before this was blogged,

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

<< What Paul Buchheit’s service does is not create new information, but aggregate existing info... >>

I think comments posted on FriendFeed are stored within FriendFeed, but that seems to be the only new content that's created and hosted by them.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Thanks Tony, I edited the sentence now to clarify:

"What Paul Buchheit’s service does is not create new information, but aggregate existing info..."
to --->
"What Paul Buchheit's service does is not create new information about you, but aggregate existing info..."

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp: Nice writeup, but I have a couple of issues with you last paragraph.

All the services being aggregated are actively public – people can hardly be surprised or unhappy that people are reading their blog, checking their Amazon wishlist, or looking at their publicly published Flickr feed – in all cases it's opt-in (even then – you can make a blog private, same with Amazon's lists, same with Flikr pictures), this site just aggregates it in a more elegant way than Google Reader. In fact – you can do exactly the same thing in Reader (create a tag for each friend, add their feeds, ...) does that make Reader a privacy invasion risk?

The extension of Streetview to people recording and publishing your phone calls is a bit of a straw man argument too. There are already strict controls on what people can and can't record without your permission.

BrianS [PersonRank 7]

12 years ago #

This looks pretty interesting. If anybody has an invite I'd love to give it a shot as well...

brain131 at g m a i l dot com

IwfWcf [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I don't think there is any privacy problem with FriendFeed.All the information that FriendFeed collect can be found easily in the web,And at this time the social network information will be more and more open.People will want to show more information about themselve to the other person.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> Nice writeup, but I have a couple of issues with
> you last paragraph.

Well, I tried to disclaim that my last paragraph was not about Friendfeeds or Google Street View by writing "To expand this to a hypothetical case far beyond the implications of Street View or Friendfeed". What I was getting at is a point in relation to the underlying usefulness of Friendfeeds, but far beyond it: the fact that sometimes, the level of aggregation and (crowd) data-mining of public information can push this to new privacy implications. Think about going through someone's *public* newsgroup postings from when they were a teenager; the teenager published this, and in that way opted in, but did the teenager know the implications of this 20 years into the future, when data-mining may allow us to "highlight" weird publications (or create psychological profiles of a person via some to-be-invented AI pattern resolver)? Even more "real-time" aggregation, like scrutinizing every Wikipedia edit of a person (a feature not yet available in Friendfeeds yet, though I pinged them to see if they want to add it – I personally think it'd be interesting!), can be weird if crowd-analyzed.

> There are already strict controls on what people
> can and can't record without your permission.

Not as well-defined as you might think, due to technology sometimes evolving faster than laws. For instance, in Germany there are laws against certain photos even when made in public if the private person is the center of the photograph. A group photo on the other hand may be OK. Now you add Google Street View to the mix: how, to analyze if it's lawful, do you define a "center of focus" in the street view photos? The center of focus is whatever people data-mine out of the showing-everything-imagery. Any single person out of a group can be made the center of attention (for often fascinating or funny or revealing results... I blogged about it too in reg. to Street View).

And on the specific example of recording audio in public, what are the laws in your country? I'm not talking about republishing the audio – just about recording it! After all, you can record the audio, and then cache it on the server, plug-in some speech-to-text and a public search interface, and then "only" show relevant fair use snippets of what has been said. Not to say *that* is legal – I don't know, and it largely depends on the country you're in as laws know borders (as opposed to most online apps).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> I don't think there is any privacy problem with FriendFeed.
>All the information that FriendFeed collect can be found
> easily in the web,

Exactly agreed, all this info is public to begin with.
As for the "easily" part – well, Friendfeed makes it even easier, that's why it's useful...

To explore some of the concepts here (again, nothing about Friendfeed in particular), even a journalist sometimes does nothing else in order to "unveil a scoop" but do research of public sources and then focus attention on relevant parts within that info. Or think of how Google-watcher Daniel Brandt didn't like the privacy implications of an entry on him on Wikipedia, even though Wikipedia only uses external (mostly public, I think) sources.

One other thing that's very interesting to ask in this context: what happens if you automate this research? When is it a curious power user exploring public URLs of a website – and when is it a full-blown dictionary attack (exploring public URLs, again, but perhaps hitting on more than was intended to be public)? And is there anything wrong with a dictionary "attack" (or screen-scraping, data-mining, etc.)? And what happens when you get together with 100,000 other curious power users, each only exploring 1 URL (or image... or text snippet... or ...), but you create public interface to submit the most "interesting" ones – is this manual... or is it a dictionary attack?

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Your point on the future implications of data mining is well received. I'm constantly amazed by the sort of things people post in public forums. This will become a bigger deal in the future when more organizations actively mine things like BlogSearch and Groups when determining people's insurance premiums and job suitability. I take a best case / worst case scenario for online writing. I assume the people I don't want to read something will find it, and that people who I would like to read it won't. Tends to limit how much I reveal online :)

As to laws, you're right – legislation tends to be a fair way behind technology, but in the case of audio recording it's been around long enough to cover a lot of bases (interestingly video laws still lag).

IANAL but AFAIK in Australia you can't (legally) record a conversation without both parties being aware that it's being recorded (phones that can record conversations as they happen have this feature removed in Australia). I believe in the US at least *one* party must be aware of it. I'm not sure about the UK and Europe though.

I'm not sure about how fair-use applies to unpublished material either.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

PS: One other interesting area – trash cans. I believe some (most, many?) countries have laws which make a home's garbage can a "public & no privacy" area, meaning you can go through someone's trash can and retrieve letters out of it etc. and read through them.

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

In a lot of countries the trash can is still private – until it's been emptied into the garbage truck!

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I wonder if people being able to more easily find what's publicly available about them will encourage them to be more discrete?

I'm always surprised to find people with carefully disguised aliases in public forums, sharing links to their (non-aliased) blog site or photos.

Theo Geer [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

A somewhat contrasting thought here. Privacy is a huge issue. I can understand why people fear being tracked everywhere. I'll even admit to a bit of personal fear when it comes to the US Government being able to keep easy tabs on its citizens. There's something about it that makes me uncomfortable on a primal, cultural level.

But what if this is just the beginning? I think it's faily easy to imagine a world in 20 years where the concept of privacy is completely transformed. What is privacy? Is it acting without being observed? That's a classic concept. Heisenberg showed that observation is influence, so perhaps we have some cultural stigma against being influenced by people watching us.

Do we behave differently when we feel we're in private places as opposed to public? I think many of us do. Why is that? We act differently when we're being observed for a great many reasons. We want to be liked, we don't want to offend, we have an image to maintain, we're afraid of being outed, we're ashamed of who we really are.

Perhaps if we got over our issues and started being honest we wouldn't have this obsessive need for privacy. If we alleviated our cultural shame, our judgment and need to be judged, perhaps these would be non-issues.

It's not a perfect world, but there are still places for idealism. The internet, connected culture, is creating the new world piece by piece. Let us make the decision to create it based on ideals, not practicalities.

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Theo: Unfortunately the reason we tend to behave differently in private and public has less to do with our 'cultural shame' and a lot more to do with the judgment of others. When I code at home it's often in my PJs with my feet up and the radio cranked. And if something goes wrong I swear at my PC like a crusty old sailor. I'm not embarrassed by it, but I've never tried it at the investment bank where I work – I dare say it would not be well received.

Not to mention the far more serious problems with discrimination. Eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious prejudice and people will have a lot less they need to keep private.

I like your idea of building the internet on ideals, but whose? It sounds like your ideals mesh with my own, but a lot of people have a far more restrictive view of what is and isn't appropriate in public *or* private.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Theo, I think there are (at least) two reasons for privacy.

- One, as you describe, is that we may fear we're doing something that may reflect badly upon us, or not fit with the image we'd like to have of ourselves. (It may also just be considered rude, as Reto says, and offend others, even if we personally wouldn't mind...)

- Second, people also may want to have a private life independent of whether they consider something fitting with their image or not – they may just decide to not share their full life with everyone. Let's say you met your partner/ wife/ husband in a very romantic fashion (and you are not embarassed about it, and it fits with your self-image): would you detail this first meeting, at great length, to a stranger you just met? If not, why not? Maybe because it would be like "letting go of a treasure", just a bit? And it would also open yourself to "abuse" like your private life being dragged into e.g. professional/ political/ job attacks?
And sometimes, even when you are proud of something, sharing it with the wrong person may invite envy from them at a later point... and then you might regret you shared something...

Paul Buchheit [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Philipp, Thanks for the review!

One point I'd like to correct though, there are actually four FriendFeed founders: Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Sanjeev Singh, and I. Bret and Jim actually created the concept and wrote most of the code at this point – Sanjeev and I teamed up with them more recently, so our contributions are not yet as significant.

For more details, see the "About the Company" section of our "about" page: friendfeed.com/about/

Thanks

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

"One other interesting area – trash cans" God that sounds so funny on it's own.

Theo Geer [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Phillip,

You bring up an interesting conversation regarding the personal valuating of our experiences. There is something intrinsically special about those memories or experiences that mean something to us. Spiritual experiences, among many others, often have value that can easily be damaged when other people disrespect or devalue them.

I personally believe that this devaluation is one of the reasons why so many people appear to have superficial meaningless lives. We are afraid of sharing our special experiences for fear that people who don't understand them, or haven't shared them, will somehow ruin them for us. I agree, this is a big part of the privacy concern, but I wonder if maintaining our idea of privacy is the answer.

For the record, I'm a proponent of gradual and massive cultural shifting. I believe one of the changes that needs to, and will, happen in the coming decades is that we will learn to identify our own experiences and value them without their validation by others. Sadly, I don't think this *can* happen until people choose to take those chances and overcome their fears.

Reto, You're absolutely correct that you probably wouldn't be well received in the office in your PJ's. I am often in the same situation. That said, cultural change doesn't occur because we adhere to other peoples concepts of propriety. It occurs because we challenge those senses of propriety. Wisely, and in measure, I think the well placed challenge is one of the best ways to begin changing your environment.

As far as it goes, my only privacy concern is that I simply don't trust the US Government right now. I'm openly gay, openly pagan, and openly flouting plenty of other cultural concepts.

All that said, I think we're headed in a good direction. So long as the privacy concerns are handled by level-headed forward-thinkers we'll do well. The problems begin when reactionaries, and people with things to hide, begin to draw curtains and limitations. Sadly, there are all too many people in public service and policy who have things to hide.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> One point I'd like to correct though, there are actually
> four FriendFeed founders: Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Sanjeev
> Singh, and I.

Thanks, I edited the post by adding the word "co-created".

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Another use-case came to mind: what if Friendfeed would add special alerts like "Jane Doe removed her photo XYZ from Flickr", with a link to some thumbnail caching system? The photo was public, and the page it rested on was public, but would you like to announce to all your friends that the photo was removed – as maybe you removed it for some reason (it was supposed to be private, or attracted the wrong attention, or what-not...)?

Slippy Lane [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

I applied for beta at the weekend and got my invitation a couple of days ago. I'm quite impressed so far, although there are obvious beta issues with the system – limited supported services, inability to cope with blog feeds redirected by feedburner (I think – I'm waiting for a response on that one).

As a whole, yes, it looks a little Googlish, but that's really hard NOT to do with a simple white-background page layout like that. I've found it easy to work with, and I've already replaced the great long list of my feeds I share around with a single link to my friendfeed...

friendfeed.com/slippy

Also, it must be said – props to Paul and the team for beating Google to the post with this one!

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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