FriendFeed is now In a Relationship with Facebook

In a move that surprised many in the tech world, Facebook and FriendFeed today announced that FriendFeed has been acquired by Facebook. This announcement came as a surprise to those who see FriendFeed as an annoying, yet open approach to the web whereas Facebook has a history of being a walled garden, often only opening up their data streams in limited or crippled fashions.

More surprisingly, the acquisition was something like Sixth Sense where you watched the movie trying to figure out what the ending would be just to be totally blindsided as the credits rolled. Yeah, it was that sort of satisfactory “ah, you got me” moment.

friendfeed-facebookI have had a torrid relationship with FriendFeed culminating with a termination of my account, causing much angst and name-calling from the puppets who have pushed FriendFeed as the only way to have legitimate conversations on the web. From my perspective, and others, it was a noisy, troll-filled social platform that, though having good technical features like real time feeds, also provided an almost cliché approach to communication.

Where the web has become increasingly fragmented and dispersed, fans of FriendFeed often touted it’s aggregation platform as the end of disbursement, a concept that I disagree with. Such end of disbursement also marks an end to competition, if allowed, and a navel-gazing mentality that assumes nothing can be better. Competition in the market place is good, and I chose Twitter.

What this means to consumers is unknown yet. Facebook has a historic closed stance and, though opening up certain APIs such as Facebook Connect, and allowing developers to develop applications for Facebook, it still stands as a relatively closed system. In order to really engage with Facebook, you really have to be using Facebook itself or the mobile apps built for Facebook.

FriendFeed has a robust API that developers can access to distribute or repurpose the content within. It has failed in many ways by not providing a really great application ecosystem, but on paper, it is much more robust of an open system than Facebook.

Facebook has certainly taken pages from the FriendFeed book, however, making their newsfeeds real time, and integrating their “Like” feature. However, it still is not as quick or reliable, much less intuitive for the user.

In an ideal world, Facebook takes almost all of the real time, and “Group” functionality of FriendFeed and integrates it into Facebook. Lose the walled garden, and keep the API open for developers. Time will tell, however, as these two companies figure out how to be “In a Relationship” with each other.

More on this acquisition from other sources:

Steve McNair and the Failure of Breaking News Reporting

It’s a late Fourth of July afternoon here in Bethesda, Maryland and I am sitting here working on a chapter in the new book. Peacefully minding my own business while the steady stream of chips from Tweetdeck occurred, I did not realize what was happening.

Steve McNair died. Putting aside the tragedy (he was a former Raven, a hero among athletes and, by all acounts, men – NFL MVP, a warrior known to play through countless injuries, mature in his approach to life and the game), we witnessed a catastrophic failure of major media. Again.

I’m not one to crucify major media. Indeed, I may be one of the few in my industry to want to see the newspaper and other forms of traditional media succeed in a huge fashion. The problem is that, even in the days of blogs and Twitter, we still rely on major media to report the news. To do the journalism. To find the sources and produce the confirmation.

As much as we in new media claim to be journalists, major media still does the job better than most of us could hope too.

We rely on Twitter and sometimes we’re wrong. Take the example of the report that actor Jeff Goldblum had died. Highly inaccurate. Stephen Colbert even fucked around with us in new media claiming that if it happens on Twitter, it must be true.

This afternoon, Twitter was ablaze with reports that Nashville Police has found former Tennessee Titan and Baltimore Raven quarterback, Steve McNair, dead in an apparent murder suicide. WKRN, in Nashville, was the first with the news and it quickly disappeared off their page – a result of too much traffic or erroring on the side of caution, who is to really know.

NBC Affiliate WTVF, Channel 5, was the second to report it filling the gap where WKRN dropped off.

It was a long time (30 minutes or so) before national media picked it up. ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports by their own slogan, didn’t have it. No one did. We were left gasping for more. Is the rumor true? Can anyone confirm? Can police confirm?

Was any of us on Twitter making calls? Maybe. A few possibly. Not many.

Major media got a little jittery in the past. After 9/11. With other reports that turned into an overcompensation. Fact is, major media can safely report on a rumor as long as it is billed as such. No one has to say that this is confirmed. But people want to know. We get our news on the internet.

We find out about things happening in Iran via Twitter. We find out about Michael Jackson dying… on Twitter. We read blogs that deal with Sarah Palin’s awkwardly bizarre resignation at Alaska governor. We’re not watchoing your TV stations. We’re not in Nashville. Welcome to the global economy.

Report the damn news and report it as a rumor to hedge your bets. But report the news.

Photo Credit: mdu2boy

Update: Most media organizations are reporting a double homicide now, not a murder sucide. WKRV, who was first with the story, had reported a possible murder-suicide.

My Remarks to Congressional Staffers Today

I’ve been invited to speak to two groups of Congressional staffers today. In about 30 mins, I’ll speak to Republican staffers at the Capitol Hill Club. Later today, at 1:30, I’ll be speaking to the Democrats in their Capitol Building office. The topic is Blogging, microblogging and social media and the event is hosted by NextGenWeb and the DCI Group.

These are my planned opening remarks:

First of all, I want to thank NextGenWeb and the DCI Group for inviting me to be with you today. I want to thank all of you for taking time out of your Friday morning to be here as well.
The U.S. Capitol at Night
We have a lot to talk about today because, frankly, the landscape of news, reporting, politics and effective organizing isn’t changing. It already has changed.

comScore, the metrics organization that measures website popularity and user engagement and leads the industry in much the same way that Nielsen has led the more traditional media rating media, reported that sites like Facebook and MySpace are owning over 100M unique visitors every month. Universal McCann, another measurement company, reports that 77% of active internet users read blogs.

Whether you agree or disagree with these numbers, and whether you like the trend or not, it is undeniable that the new media space has emerged. It is difficult to turn on your television without seeing personalities – and I do mean personalities – such as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow or CNN’s Rick Sanchez engaging their audiences with Twitter.

Up until recently, your own rules here in Congress have prevented you from effectively engaging the citizens on your districts, states and this country. You were hampered by antiquated rules that required separation of content from endorsements in the form of ads. I led the way in helping America see this, through my blog, public radio and conversation on and off the Hill. Though I cannot take full credit for any changes that have occurs, changes have still have occurred. Your House and Senate rules now allow you to utilize Twitter, YouTube and other social media avenues.

The news cycle is there and it’s different than it was before. In another lifetime, you played the game by talking to the press and hoping that they found interest in your cause. Now, you can go directly to the American people.

However, with much power comes much responsibility. Blogs have given us as citizens an expectation for engagement. For conversation. For exchange of information, ideas and transparency. Major media for the most part has not figured this out yet, and that is why more Americans get their news on the internet. There are, of course, exceptions. If you are to use this effectively, you will need to treat the internet, not as a faceless drop box where constituent mail comes from. Not as an anonymous voicemail box. Not as a nameless email inbox that sends an automated reply to the sender.

You must engage. You must converse. More importantly, you must listen.

Today, we’re going to talk about blogs, Twitter and new media. I hope that we can all learn from one another and build a better interaction platform for constituents. Thank you, again.

Confirmed: Livingston Communications Acquired by Social Media Group

smglc.pngThere’s been a few rumors floating around the past few days and over the weekend. We can confirm that Livingston Communications, a boutique social PR firm based in the DC-area and owned by Geoff Livingston (also my cohost on The District of Corruption), has been acquired by Toronto-based Social Media Group headed by rockstar CEO Maggie Fox. The financial terms have not been disclosed.

Notably, as part of this acquisition, SMG is also acquiring the property rights for Blog Potomac driving those of us who are looking for community events free of Public Relations batty, and not in a Christian Bale sort of way.

Geoff will become the Executive Vice President, Americas for SMG and continue to run operations out of Washington D.C.

As a past frequent traveller, I can make recommendations for hotels in the Toronto area. I’m presuming, Geoff, you’ll be making many trips.

Siguiendo la F1 (y otras noticias) con Twitter

Esta mañana fue el Gran Premio de Barcelona de la Formula 1 y qué mejor manera de seguirlo que a través de Twitter y la TV.

Twitter (una red social que permite compartir mensajes de texto rápida y públicamente) es la herramienta perfecta para seguir eventos en vivo y enterarse de los últimos acontecimientos. Con Twitter no sólo pude compartir comentarios sobre la carrera con mis amigos alrededor del mundo (cada uno viendo la carrera en su canal favorito), sino que usando herramientas como Summize podía mantenerme al tanto de los comentarios de otros usuarios que no están en mi red de Twitter.

Mientras ningún medio online había reportado todavía noticias sobre la condición del piloto Kovalainen -quién sufrió un accidente a alta velocidad – ya Twitter tenía la información al respecto. Y es que es mucho más rápido escribir una nota de 140 caracteres y ponerla en línea que actualizar un website de noticias y esperar que Google News lo incorpore a su índice.

Twitter pone a tu alcance una red de comentaristas distribuidos alrededor del mundo… 24 horas de noticias, al momento. Y con herramientas como Summize, ni siquiera necesitas una cuenta en Twitter para aprovecharla.

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Qué Pasa con Latinoamérica y los RSS

Parece que aquel viejo dicho de “La información quiere ser libre” no aplica en Latinoamérica. Un breve estudio de medios latinoamericanos con presencia en Internet parece indicar que la gran mayoría todavía no adopta un modelo de distribución abierto.

Preparando el website inicial de NotiLat.com visité 115 websites de medios latinoamericanos en Argentina, Chile, Colombia y Venezuela y encontré que sólo 37 de ellos -un 32%- ofrecían algún tipo de canal RSS para distribuir sus noticias. Algunos de estos canales RSS no funcionaban correctamente, se encontraban en alguna carpeta protegida o no se ajustaban a las especificaciones del formato.

RSS in Latin American Media

Adopción del formato RSS dentro de los Medios Lationamericanos

Del 68% restante (78 medios), pude salvar 27 creando un canal RSS artifical con Dapper. El resto de los websites permanece escondido detrás de arcáicos formatos HTML, links que funcionan con javascript y modelos cerrados de suscripción. Es una lástima, pues lo que realmente les hace falta es exposición. A medida que facilitemos la distribución de la información que generamos, facilitamos la publicidad de nuestro servicio.

Y ustedes, ¿qué medios utilizan para mantenerse informados de lo que ocurre en Latinoamérica? ¿Cuáles te facilitan la tarea de compartir su información? ¿Se justifica un modelo cerrado?

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5 Observaciones Sobre el Estado de los Medios Digitales

Esta fue la introducción de un reporte que escribí hace un año, después de asistir a la conferencia Forbes MEET. Me pareció que seguía tan vigente, que decidí compartirlo con mis lectores.

1. Se agotó la escasez: los sistemas de distribución de contenido se han democratizado.

Los medios tradicionales, como únicos distribuidores de contenido, manejaban una economía de escasez. Funcionaban como un alcabala, decidiendo que distribuir (publicar) y que no. La Internet acabó con este sistema, dándole a todos un canal de distribución eficaz. Los cuellos de botella han desaparecido. Cualquier persona puede publicar su opinión en un blog, un video en YouTube, o hasta distribuir las canciones de su grupo musical. Los MediaSnackers son un ejemplo de usuarios adaptándose a esta nueva forma de generar y consumir contenidos multiples.

2. Time-Shifting: El futuro del consumo de contenido es cuando quieras, como quieras, donde quieras.

Aunque la televisión tradicional continuará siendo relevante y necesaria, cada vez más usuarios optarán por controlar cuándo, cómo y dónde disfrutarán ese contenido. Seguirá existiendo la necesidad de televisión en vivo, debido al aspecto social de poder comentar un programa al día siguiente (el efecto bebedero o water cooler effect). A medida que nos sentimos más cómodos compartiendo con nuestros amigos online (via Twitter, por ejemplo), parte de esta necesidad de compartir va migrando a la Internet.

3. Hacen falta más y mejores editores.

En un mundo con contenido ilimitado y de fácil acceso, se hace cada vez más importante la existencia de editores, recomendaciones, entes de confianza que nos lleven al contenido que valga la pena. A medida que valoramos más nuestro tiempo, se hace más importante y valioso tener editores de confianza. Esto aplica para todo tipo de contenidos (noticias, programas, música, juegos, videos). Sistemas como Digg, aún con sus fallas actuales, pueden ser una solución.

4. Noticias locales: Las noticias estarán cada vez más cerca.

Cuando agencias como Reuters distribuyen su cobertura internacional a todos los noticieros del mundo, el valor de estas noticias cae. Los noticieros y periódicos deben aprovechar su presencia local para dar cobertura a los eventos de real interés para su consumidor… la tendencia es a ir a un nivel hyperlocal, al barrio, a la urbanización, al municipio. La Internet es la via ideal para transmitir este contenido localizado. De igual manera, los usuarios han comenzado a hacer Periodismo Ciudadano, utilizando blogs, videos, podcasts y cualquier otra tecnología de distribución de contenido imaginable para dar su opinión, plantear sus denuncias y comentar los últimos acontecimientos.

5. La Internet competirá con la televisión en el televisor.

En los próximos dos años la Internet estará conectada al resto de nuestro hogar, principalmente al televisor. El contenido existente en Internet competirá con los programas de televisión. Ver un video de YouTube, CurrentTV o Google Video en la pantalla plana de nuestra sala será tan sencillo como apretar un botón en el control remoto. Los medios tradicionales deben hacer un esfuerzo por distribuir su contenido vía Internet (ver Hulu), crear contenido en Internet que apoye su programación tradicional (ver Heroes), y comenzar a competir contra sí mismos en este nuevo espacio.

¿Cómo será el futuro de los medios digitales?

Una versión en inglés de este artículo está disponible en mi blog, RED66.com. An English-language version of this post is available on my blog, RED66.com.