Online social networks seem to be proliferating at an exponential rate and it has become quite necessary for us to aggregate them in one place. It’s difficult to keep track of different people and their online activity in different networks. There are lots of websites online where you can aggregate all your online accounts and then, circulate a “master feed”, that simplifies the entire process. I really love this idea and have been tinkering with it since the past couple of days. These are some of the websites that I would recommend:
1. Friendfeed- Started by three ex-Google employees, and still in beta phase. You need to request an invitation to join it. I got mine on the same day. They plan to make this service public by the end of next month. The UI is extremely simple and resembles Google. Friendfeed tops my list for the simplicity of the sign up process (less than 30 seconds), and the overall usability. You can aggregate all your online accounts, such as Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook status updates, Netflix queue, Amazon wish list, Tumblr, Youtube, Blogs, Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Delicious…I’m tired! Your friends can just subscribe to the “master feed” and know what you’ve been doing everywhere. Simplicity is what we should aim for. Take a look at my Friendfeed page.
People can also comment on your activities and decide if they “Like it”. Deleting a particular activity from your feed is also very easy and takes only a single click. You can also install a bookmarklet that lets you post anything that you liked to your friendfeed profile. You can also install a Facebook application that will integrate your Friendfeed with your Facebook profile. I haven’t seen these features in any of the other “Aggregation” services.
The only drawback that I see here is that there is no way of adding any sort of single sentence profile. Louisgray.com has ten suggestions for its improvement.
2. Soup.io- Very similar to friendfeed, minus the ability to comment. The best part is that you can try the service without even signing up. Of course, if you want to make your profile permanent, then you need to make an account, that takes only 20 seconds. You can customize the look of your page by adding a theme and editing the CSS. But I didn’t like the fact that I need to click twice in order to delete a particular entry (once, initially, and the second time, to confirm) and for me, that’s very important! But yes, it’s open to public and you don’t need to wait for an invitation. Take a look at my soup page.
3. Readr- This has been in existence since a longer time, compared to Friendfeed and Soup.io. Again, you have the ability to comment on particular items, choose a theme and merge all your online accounts together. There is nothing unique about this service, IMO. Soup.io and Readr are clones of each other. Readr’s output of the feeds is not that nice looking and it kind of looks jumbled up. Another problem is that when you initially set up an account with them, then your items will be shown in the order you added the feeds and not in the chronological order. So, you might have three pages of Delicious, two pages of Stumbleupon, one page of Digg etc. You get the picture. Take a look at my page for an example. The process of adding accounts was a little more cumbersome because the default number of accounts that are available are less compared to Friendfeed or Soup.io.
Apart from these major player, there are others such as Mugshot, 30boxes (the sign up process needed me to click on a link in an email and that is a complete no-no when we compare it with its competitors), etc. The bottomline- The web 2.0 sites are showing a tremendous upsurge in the usage. If you don’t sign up for an aggregator today, you very well have to a couple of months down the line. And what are those RSS feeds for? We need to embrace anything that helps us save time (and become lazier).
In this Web 2.0 picture:
I thought that Reddit was bigger, but it’s reach is 900 and valued at just about $30 milloon. Of course, Stumbleupon is much bigger, with a reach of 1,800 and valued at a little less than $100 million. Digg remains strong and steady with a reach of 6,000 and a little less than $500 million in valuation. The biggest joke here is Windows Live Spaces, right at the bottom of the graph (towards the middle), with a reach of 15 and any guesses regarding its market value?
MyBlogLog, Netvibes, and Meebo (also won a Crunchie) are almost in the same category. Orkut (reach of 26,000) is still bigger than Facebook (reach of 9,000), yet the latter makes more noise in the Web 2.0 world.
And you know the best thing? Google owns three out of the top five market value/reach grossers- Youtube, Orkut and Blogger. Just another graph to show how powerful Google is becoming. The only thing is that I see Bloglines in the third tier, with a reach of 2,200, but I don’t see Google Reader anywhere. It might be possible that Google Reader was excluded (very unlikely though). Bloglines was my first feedreader. Then I changed to Google Reader and now I use the in-built feed reader provided by the social web browser, Flock.
Box is also doing pretty decent with a reach of 500 and I strongly feel that it will rise very soon because of its lovely user interface.
Where is Yahoo Mash? It seems to have disappeared already. I wanted to do a follow up on it…maybe I need to take a look at my account and see if Yahoo has introduced any new features. There is no way Yahoo Mash will be able to play catch up with Facebook or Orkut. Something that is very evident from this graph.
While we’re on the topics of Web 2.0 start ups, maybe it’s not too late to assess what kind of a Web 2.0 user are you? I’m sure most of you are at least Spectators (33%), else you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
I could write miles about Web 2.0 and each of these companies, and still not get done. So, it’s better if we just talk about issues in the comments section, right?