Earlier this week Facebook bought Friendfeed for about $50M. Friendfeed and Facebook are both companies that live in/around the Gist space, or better said since we are small and they are large, Gist plays in their space. We are all working on “dynamic aggregation” of content and using these aggregations to build stronger relationships. Many of the posts related to the acquisition speculate that the purchase was about competing with Twitter, which Facebook is rumored to have tried to buy and/or Facebook competing with Google or even that they were just trying to acquire the super smart guys who built FriendFeed (and Gmail, Google Maps… before that). I assume it is a little bit of all of these, like most acquisitions, but the value to the Facebook user is what I am most interested in.
Facebook already does a good job of creating a content stream from my friends, many of which are on Facebook and have discovered that I am there too. This is rich and useful, but lacks good filtering or prioritization, requires us to know about each other (invite/accept), and is usually only content that is posted directly to Facebook vs. all the other places people are posting (unless my friends have added all the apps which connect their other streams to Facebook).
Friendfeed on the other hand allows me (and a small number of my friends) to add in all these “personal feeds” to one profile and then FF automatically aggregates this content into one stream. In this way, all my personal stuff (photos, songs from Last.fm, blog posts…58 supported services and counting) ends up in one place and others can subscribe to “me”, comment, discuss, forward… But, FF is also limited in a good way to just see things from “important” friends, friends in one group or another…and even if I could do this easily FF misses content “about” these people vs. by these people and also relies on the discover/subscribe model. With the Friendfeed acquistion, Facebook now gains much broader access to these personal feeds and therefore more content about my friends, and that is a good thing and the combined discover/subscribe situation will improve the coverage across my network(s).
This is also good for Gist users as we are working with the Facebook development team to bring the Facebook activity stream (which presumably will include FF content) into Gist and, at that point, you will benefit from even broader “dynamic aggregation.” Gist users won’t have to worry about the issues around discovering services (we do this automatically) or prioritizing who is most important (via the Gist importance algorithms). You will get greater control and over just the content you want to see “by” people and “about” the people you care about most. This is power and just another step toward more control over the abundance of content out there.