October 15, 2008

Twitter Still Beats FriendFeed On Real-Time Topic Tracking

By now, most FriendFeed-o-holics have discovered the site's new ability to stream updates in real-time fashion, as opposed to the service's more static approach, displaying the point in time when you logged in. A host of bloggers have digested what some are calling "Noise on Steroids", from Robert Scoble to MG Siegler, Michael Arrington and others. While the new feature is intriguing, and could be a great tool for event live blogging, the team hasn't yet connected its capability to search or keyword filtering, which, if ever delivered, could be a body blow to Twitter search. In the interim, thanks to this gap, Twitter remains where I would go to take a large community's temperature in real time.

You can see the new real-time functionality of FriendFeed at: http://friendfeed.com/realtime.

You can even see what somebody else's feed would look like, live, by entering their URL. For example, here's mine:

The "/realtime" directory works on all lists, and rooms, which is great, but in my opinion, the tool so far misses the biggest opportunity, monitoring keywords, and search. Appending the "/realtime" tag to search queries and results flat-out breaks. It also isn't an option for the main, public, feed.

While FriendFeed's search engine is "live", in theory showing you the most recent comments and entries that have the keyword you are searching for, its results are completely flat.

For example, if I search for "debate" on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=debate I get results from friends. And they sit there unless I refresh again. But on Twitter, not only do I get live results from the entire planet, but I get an update saying how many hundreds more results have debuted since I first entered my query. See: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=debate

As a result, at least for me, the FriendFeed real-time capability is an interesting toy, but not necessarily useful. I already use lists to break down those I follow and march through each list one by one to participate, but scanning real time items is simply a firehose begging for full attention. And without keyword tracking and filtering, or the integration of real-time capabilities on the search engine, I'll find myself still checking out Twitter instead to see what the world is thinking.

By the way, don't get me wrong on my continued support of FriendFeed, and of Twitter (when used correctly). But I was hoping to see the integration of search with real time today, and I feel it's a missed opportunity until it gets done.

Find me at http://www.friendfeed.com/louisgray or http://www.twitter.com/louisgray on both services.