February 29, 2008

MyBlogLog LifeStream Is a Quiet Trickle

What? You thought because I wasn't the first to jump on MyBlogLog's new lifestreaming option, that somehow I had missed it? Wrong. Sometimes, life can get in the way. And the travel to and from Boston meant just about everybody's already done the usual, anticipated, immediate analysis, response and FriendFeed comparisons before me. And so far, MyBlogLog doesn't look like it's winning. By and large, most reports see it as an interesting update, but not one that puts it in a leadership position by any means. Unfortunately, I have to agree.

(See: WebWare, VentureBeat, Webomatica, bub.blicio.us, and TechCrunch)

Two weeks ago, we first got an e-mail titled "MyBlogLog Profiles Going Dynamic" from Ian Kennedy, Product Manager for MyBlogLog, who said the new feature, called "New with Me" would "aggregate your latest activity on sites such as Twitter, Last.fm, Digg and YouTube." The idea? "Transform your static profile into a dynamic one."

As one of the loudest, most well-recognized FriendFeed advocates out there, I had personally asked Ian in December to add FriendFeed as one of the supported services for the popular "About Me" MyBlogLog widget. (See: Will There be One Profile to Rule Them All?) While his first response, saying "So many social networks, so little time!" made the trivial seem difficult, on February 19th, he followed up to say FriendFeed was added, but events wouldn't be pulled from the feed, given clear issues with duplicate items. (See: Ian's comment)

It's clear MyBlogLog, whether inspired by FriendFeed or not, fell in love with the idea of making the site something more than a stale page, which it had been for some time. Interestingly, this move toward lifestreaming is just about 100% the opposite direction of what I had expected out of them from a post in September, when I asked, "What Is the Future Of MyBlogLog?" In that post, I wrote, "MyBlogLog is exactly what its name implies - it is My Blog's Log, not My Personal Log." I already have sites that cater to following me around. What I want instead, is something that more directly follows my blog around - with increased statistics, linkage and visitor details. I wanted MyBlogLog to get more in touch with what made it interesting in the first place, its communities, and networking individuals, not showing me what they are doing somewhere else. This move only makes the data found elsewhere more important, and what MyBlogLog first served to do even less important.

So why would I dump on MyBlogLog for doing what FriendFeed and others have tried? Because MyBlogLog is way behind on day one.

FriendFeed delivers significant value not just because they aggregate my Web lifestream, but because they enable interaction, through comments and discussions. MyBlogLog doesnt. FriendFeed also lets me choose my friends, and doesn't force them on me based on how many times I've visited a site in aggregate. It's enough to make me avoid sites I've visited before just to keep out of a community. As MyBlogLog preferences can be set to auto-join communities thanks to visit frequency, I may often find out I'm "friends" with popular news sites, not "friends" with my real peers, the way FriendFeed has. And making things worse, MyBlogLog is way slow. Right now, according to MyBlogLog, I haven't done anything online for the past three hours. But FriendFeed knows the truth. FriendFeed shows in those same "idle" three hours, that I added a blog post, sent one note on Twitter, and shared four items on Google Reader, for starters.

I want to root for these guys, but this time, I can't. On day one, MyBlogLog is underfeatured against FriendFeed. It has fewer services than FriendFeed. It doesn't accurately track my friends, and it doesn't enable communication. It doesn't track as quickly. And it doesn't give me more information about "My Blog", which is in the service's name, for crying out loud. While I was once worried that MyBlogLog had gotten too static and lacking in development, I now see they were just focused on the wrong things. Maybe they'll continue to update the service and surprise me with new directions, but for now, I'm all too happy to stick with their blog widgets, and dam up their lifestream.


  1. Hi Louis,

    I'm bummed that you don't see any value in what we built but understand if you're looking for enhancements to our stats service.

    Last night's launch was not an attempt to take on FriendFeed but more the addition of a feature that was the next logical thing to do with all the service IDs we currently house. FriendFeed is doing something different with their commenting - we have no plans to build that.

    We do have plans for features that will build upon New with Me that I can't go into right now but hopefully it will impress you when we launch it.

    Stay tuned.

    Product Manager, MyBlogLog

  2. Ian, thanks for stopping by. It's a lot easier to write positive, enthusiastic reviews, and I know it's sometimes risky to write more tepid ones, like this, especially as I knew you would see it. I know you've got a lot of great development in the product already and I'm more than happy to continue prominently featuring the MyBlogLog widgets I already use, so I'm eager to see what you've got in mind.

    Thanks for the details re: FriendFeed, etc. Keep working hard.