June 06, 2008

FriendFeed Friday Tips #4: How & Why to Add Google Talk Status

By popular demand, I've been asked by other FriendFeed users to highlight how I use the popular social lifestreaming site. So far the series has covered the "Hide" function, the bookmarklet. and its advanced search capabilities. Today, I thought I'd show you how to connect your Google Talk service to FriendFeed, using your status as a near-substitute for Twitter, only with centralized conversations, and fewer limitations.

Why Use Google Talk Status Updates

As far as FriendFeed is concerned, GMail/Google Talk is just one of nearly three dozen services configured to send updates to the site. While there is certainly some feeling of ownership, as Paul Buchheit (Wikipedia | Blog) is credited with founding GMail during his time at Google, updates from the service can be seen as equal to any other service, be it Del.icio.us, Disqus, Google Reader Shared items or any of the others. But updating the Google Talk status, for me, has been a great way to flexibly update my FriendFeed followers to a thought, spurring conversation, in more than 140 characters.

In fact, in the last few months, some of the best conversations I've had on FriendFeed have come through infrequent, focused, use of this feature:

Using FriendFeed's new "30 day summary" showing the most popular Google Talk items from me and my friends, I see the top five conversations as:
1. “You know, if Twitter replaced their "Something is wrong..." graphic with a page full of AdSense banners, they'd be gazillionaires!”
(69 likes and 22 comments)

2. “Are blog comments a "conversation" with the author, or just answering and responding to the author? Do you expect the author to respond to your comment?”
(24 likes and 33 comments)

3. "Dear Disqus... I trusted you. I let you host all my comments and run the show. Now that you're down, where is the transparency? What's the uptime ETA?”
(24 likes and 47 comments)

4. “Blogger is _so_ down right now, it's not even funny. Can't edit old posts. Can't edit the template. Can't see squat. Grr.”
(7 likes and 34 comments)

5. “33 weeks: Twins still baking. Crib? Check. Dresser? Check. Baby clothes? Check. Changing table? Check. Diapers? Check. Bassinet/playpen? Check. Wife? Resting."
(15 likes and 13 comments)
Synching my Google Talk status with FriendFeed is easy, and as you can see, it has been a great way to spur meaningful conversations, without having to share 3rd party content. As Twitter's downtime has made the service's use ever more questionable, I've found this to be an excellent substitute, one that's being underutilized by other FriendFeeders.

How To Sync Google Talk With Your FriendFeed

And as described in the introductory post from December of 2007, adding the functionality is very simple.

1) Go to your FriendFeed settings page.

2) Click "Edit/Add" to add GMail to your FriendFeed.

3) By adding GMail to your FriendFeed, you will receive a chat request from friendfeed@talk.friendfeed.com in your Google Chat interface.

4) Click "Yes" to accept them as a chat participant, and from then on, every Google Talk status update will be fed instantly.

To see a list of Google Talk status updates from the public feed, see here: http://friendfeed.com/public?service=googletalk. Mine can be found here.

Despite Paul and the team having done an excellent job on GMail, I never did leave my Mac.com e-mail address for the colorful pastures of Google, so you won't often see me lurking in Google Talk land, except for short bursts, to jump in, change my status, and disappear into the shadows. Now, you know why.