Social Feed Aggregators

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of powerful social networking platforms out there, with new ones launching every week. Send 140-character messages with Twitter. Save links with Promote content with Digg. Share music with It’s endless.

Lifestreaming — recording your daily activities through text, links, photos, music and video — is quickly becoming the norm, and the output is outrageously addictive. We have all become voyeurs, aroused by watching people expose themselves 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Yet with the deluge of dispersed content it’s virtually impossible to keep up. We hasten from site to site in a desperate attempt to stay current. In 60 seconds, I learned that Pro Bose is moving to Hoboken, Victor Lombardi is checking out Google Experimental Labs, and Christian Crumlish is bored with the company in his head. And I want to know more!

Twitter has experienced a disproportionate amount of downtime in recent weeks, and a theme I keep noticing is a migration to FriendFeed. Just by searching for Friendfeed Twitter down in Summize, I was able to find these:

Not surprisingly, Robert Scoble is ranting about it, and ReadWriteWeb has a post titled, “Twitter is Down — Come Join Us in Our FriendFeed Room,” which summarizes what everyone else is expressing: if I can’t get my Twitter fix, at least I can find something else about you. We have reached a point where it’s simply impossible for us to let go of each other for more than 5 minutes at a time.

What’s so attractive about FriendFeed anyway? It’s a social feed aggregator, a fancy way of saying it combines all of your streams in one central location. I’ve been using it for a couple months and had the same questions that Alex Rainert did when he first joined. Sure, it’s a great concept, but I don’t love the implementation (very flat) and just didn’t get immediately hooked the way I did with Twitter.

I’ve been wanting to pit FriendFeed against two other very similar systems, Readr and Socialthing!. What are the major differences? Which one provides the most robust functionality? Which is easiest use?

This is how they describe themselves:

  • FriendFeed: “Discover what your friends are sharing, discuss with people you know, share your stuff from other sites automatically.”
  • Readr: “20 profiles in 1. Put your blog, photos and more together in one place.”
  • Socialthing!: “Get your digital life together. See everything that’s going on with your friends in all the sites you use.”

Now typically I would do the evaluation myself. But I’m curious to know what you think. I’ve laid all the screens out for you below. Use the comments area to give your thoughts on the benefits of each service. I look forward to seeing what you make of these.





Friend Settings

Account Settings



Friend Updates

My Profile

Account Settings


Readr’s blog hasn’t been updated since November, so I have no idea what they’ve got in the works.







So now that you’ve seen them all, tell me what you think!

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  1. says

    Hey there. Thanks for the mention! Thought I’d jump in and let you know that Socialthing! 2.0 is almost complete. There’s a lot of changes with how it works, and there’s much more reason to use it after the 2.0 is released.

    If you’re in the private beta, you should get access to the 2.0 features sometime in the next two weeks.

    We’re really excited with what we’re about to give everyone…it’s for sure a major update!

  2. says

    Hey, good write up. I haven’t seen Readr, but to be honest, i hope there is an end aggregator soon. Profilactic… staying away from it because 1) the name is lame 2) 183 sites? that’s overwhelming (i know i don’t have to use them all, but ugh, just seems messy)

    @matt I like Social Thing’s interface better than FF, but they have a sweet set of site support.

    Also, on a somewhat related note, i’m encouraging everyone on WP blogs to look into Disqus (Whitney, you saw it on my site) it’s helping to keep the conversations that leave to aggregators, come back/stay on, plus there might be a FF-partner play happening:

  3. says

    “Flat” is a good way to describe FriendFeed. I signed up, and soon wished they had a way to delete my account, but they don’t even have that.

    SocialThing looks a lot more readable.

    But when it comes to aggregation, I have to wonder if it’s ‘turtles turtles turtles all the way down’ — no end to it.

    Maybe FeedBurner is the answer, and then we can all pick our own favorite (RSS reader) client!

  4. says

    @Chris I definitely know they support more sites than we do, however, it’s likely that with even fewer sites, you’ll still see more content coming in. That’s because we bring in all your friends, not just the ones that have become members of our site.

    We are, however, working very hard on adding additional services…

  5. Marc Vermut says

    While I use Friendfeed more consistently at the moment, and I hate the logo, iminta ( has a really nice interface and approach to lifestreaming. It just doesn’t have the network effect of FF yet.


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