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January 23, 2008

A Big Upgrade Day for Five Social Services

Sometimes, you can go weeks without news, and then seemingly, there's this spike of activity, when the industry snaps out of its temporary slumber and gets coding.

Today, in the space of a few hours, some of my favorite Web services all went into the shop for a tune-up and came out with some intriguing features. Of note, FriendFeed, ReadBurner, Spokeo, Shared Reader and LinkedIn have all made improvements worth highlighting.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to add new features related to who is viewing your profile. I asked LinkedIn back in February to show how often your profile was visited, who did it, and who has similar profiles to yours, and the company is definitely moving in this direction, knocking off the first two in May, and today, interestingly letting you know what other profiles viewers of a specific individual also looked at. (The example on the right came when I viewed FriendFeed's Paul Buchheit.)

The company's official blog tonight hints at even more features of this sort coming, saying, "At LinkedIn, we believe in collective intelligence, and the team that brought you this feature ... is busy working on some even cooler stuff. Stay tuned."

We will, and we're looking forward to it. (My profile is here...)

FriendFeed

FriendFeed, also a good listener, added some great features that let you reduce some of the noise generated from verbose friends, through hiding specific services (like Twitter), muting comments on a specific entry, and, in a new twist, adding the ability to link to a specific item. While this feature was hinted at in a quick note from Paul Buchheit a few weeks ago, it's now been rolled out in style. (See: FriendFeed Options)

FriendFeed is doing a great job of upgrading through what's today still a spartan Google-like interface, managing to get a lot of data without a lot of clutter. The new features come up when you click the "Options" tag next to any item.

I had mentioned that one of my highest recommendations for FriendFeed in "10 Suggestions for FriendFeed" was to add the ability to block updates from specific services. As the blog post says, "does one of your friends Twitter way too often?" Well, the answer is yes. And rather than unsubscribe from that friend, I can just "untweet" them if I so choose.


The level of specificity in the "hiding options" is fantastic, determining that you can block specific services from specific users, and further delineate whether you want to block all such items, or just those without "Comments" or "Likes", which typically split the popular from the unpopular. (See above image)

Spokeo

Spokeo, the friend-focused feeds aggregator, well known for letting you find all the Web services your friends subscribe to and giving you a single point of access for their social network data, got some old media publicity, through Newsweek (See: Friends Under the Microscope), and in a blog post this evening, titled "What's Next?", Harrison hints and improved search features, and expanded privacy settings, which will honor private blog posts and photo albums.

ReadBurner

The day wouldn't be complete without a ReadBurner update. After my post this morning on how to share items to your Google Reader link blog without requiring subscriptions, Alexander Marktl was on the case immediately. As he posted in Share items directly through ReadBurner!, he saw the work-around as a great way to keep populating his fast-growing service.

Shared Reader

Meanwhile, in ReadBurner's wake, Shared Reader is back online and adding new features as well. Shared Reader is duplicating many of ReadBurner's efforts, aggregating the most-shared Google Reader items, but it's also added new pages for "Tags" (See the tag for "ReadBurner" or Twitter), and has added both Digg counts and Del.icio.us counts for every single shared feed item.

Of course, the most popular shared items are also from the same sources you commonly see dominating TechMeme or Digg, so what rises to the top... still rises to the top. Also, Shared Reader has been highlighting the most-active linkblogs, and sources for articles, on the site's front page. So far, Mark "Rizzn" Hopkins of Mashable is #1, and I'm trailing in the #2 position for active link blogging...