FriendFeed is a powerful service you can use to follow all the public online activity of your friends. It takes all your friends' activity on Twitter, Digg, del.icio.us, Flickr, YouTube, and 30 other sites and creates one giant uber-feed that you can display in one place. Furthermore, people can comment on what their friends are doing, and you can read those comments, so the service acts as a good way to discover the things your social network thinks is important.
In this guide we'll tell you how to get started with FriendFeed.
FriendFeed is a young service and its developers update it frequently. This guide is current as of June 5. If you spot errors, feel free to e-mail me and I will make the appropriate corrections. Thank you.
Step 1. Join up. This is easy. Go to the site and sign up.
The service will ask you if you want to install the Facebook app. FriendFeed in Facebook is a bit misleading: It will show you all your friends' activities in your profile page except for what they do on Facebook itself. FriendFeed doesn't have a feed of that data.
FriendFeed gives you the option to read in your address books from various online e-mail services. Then it matches those addresses to existing FriendFeed users. It's a good way to stock your network with friends, and doing this does not spam anyone.
Once you've added a few friends, you can let FriendFeed recommend other people to follow. Go to the "friend settings" tab and click "recommend." The app will show you a list of people who are followed by folks you're already following--friends of friends. Chances are very good you'll find people you know on this list.
If you have skipped all the friend-adding features so far, you'll get the option of signing up to read 12 popular FriendFeed users. Following these users will put you smack in the middle of the Web 2.0 echo chamber, and if you want to track your friends in the real world you might find it hard to hear them over the noise of these 12 white guys, but it is a good way to get started with the service. If you haven't added any friends in the previous step, I recommend you pick at least one person from the dozen top users so you can see what the service does. Try either Paul Buchheit or Bret Taylor, co-founders of FriendFeed.
Assuming you've added either your friends or the famous people, now you'll now see the FriendFeed main content page.
Step 2: Reading FriendFeed FriendFeed shows you a list of all the public things the people you're following are doing on the Web. But it gets tricky: It's not strictly ordered by time, with the most recent activities on the top of the list. While new items do start on top, an old item that's scrolled down can move back up to the top if another user comments on it.
The grouping of comments on items, and the persistence of heavily commented-upon items at the top of the list, is what makes FriendFeed a very good way to get a look at what is popular in your social network at the given moment. To help you grasp the zeitgeist even better, FriendFeed automatically includes items from friends of your friends in your main content window.
This means, however, that items from friends of yours who are not Web 2.0 celebrities can quickly scroll off your main content stream. FriendFeed's founders are working on new features to help you track the people who matter to you personally even if their items don't get the comments that stick them to top of the feed. In the meantime, you might want to limit the number of celebrities you subscribe to.
Step 3. Add your personal feeds. If you like what FriendFeed does, you'll probably want to join in as well, so your friends who are on FriendFeed can follow you, too.