July 18, 2008

FriendFeed Friday Tips #7: Who Are These People, Anyway?

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, advanced search, how to integrate with Google Talk, how you can incorporate comments and determine an item's original source. Today, figuring out who you're engaging with on the service.

So far, unlike most social networks out there, FriendFeed doesn't utilize a person's profile as the central nervous system around which the service is built. There's no way to post my location, my age, my job title, my birthday, my religion, or marital status. For some, this is surely a blessing. For others, it seems like a feature gap. Filling that gap, until FriendFeed does it in the future, is a GreaseMonkey script developed by Hao Chen. But for non-Firefox users or those who don't play with scripts, you can use FriendFeed's stream to get clues.

FriendFeed's stream consists of a collection of updates from disparate services around the Web, from you and your friends. The nomenclature, as discussed in last week's tip, consists of service icons, an active verb, and the service itself.

Clicking on any of these icons reduces the total stream to show only updates from a specific service. For example, I can click the orange RSS icon and see only blog entries from my friends. I can click the Twitter logo and see only Tweets. But if, over time, I've started following a number of people who are friends online but not in real life, as is common, the very best way to find out who they are is by showing only updates from LinkedIn. If your contacts are using LinkedIn, and have registered it with FriendFeed, there will be at least one entry, and if they update, you'll see if they changed jobs or got promoted.

The URL to show all LinkedIn updates from your friends is:

The URL to show all LinkedIn updates from people throughout FriendFeed is:
(Have at it, recruiters!)

From this, I found that Alan Steele, formerly of Mergelab, is now the VP of Engineering at Identity.net, Drew Olanoff of ReadBurner is now the Community Manager and Evangelist at MyStrands and Atul Arora is the Director of Product Management at Vimo, for starters.

Yes, it turns out that most of the geeks who participate online are also geeks in real life. That's not a surprise. But rather than just knowing somebody from their blog or their tweets, or even their photos from Flickr, with a single click, you can browse all the titles on LinkedIn and see what these people do in the real world. And just like with any other FriendFeed entry, you can like a LinkedIn entry or make a comment. It's a great way to congratulate somebody on the social ladder as they move up the corporate ladder.

As for more MySpace/Facebook looking profiles, check out Hao Chen's scripts or... just wait. I bet FriendFeed will solve this soon enough.