Social Networks & the Need for Feeds

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Sean Ammirati (mSpoke / ReadWriteWeb), Ian Kennedy (Yahoo!), Bret Taylor (FriendFeed), Kevin Marks (Google),and David Recordon (Six Apart) spoke on a panel about feeds.

What’s social about feeds? Feeds help you keep track of what you friends/family are doing and can also be used a social filter for new content discovery.

The panel discussed what’s public and what should be private. A concern was raised about how the norm with a feed is sharing, unlike email where there is somewhat of an understanding that it is not something that should be public. In reaction, it was important that there should not be surprises. The user should have control over what information gets shared and with whom. Facebook doesn’t allow user activity to be shared via a feed and the panel felt it should be open.(applause)

The very public is easy, the very private is easy. It’s the middle ground that’s hard. The balance is where the focus needs to be.

The other factor is to be a good partner with the content providers. For aggregators of feeds, sending traffic back to the site that generated the content is really important. The challenge is to drive enough value back to the source to make sharing worthwhile for everyone.

When focused discussions happen within a friend based network the discussion can be much higher quality than a wide open public conversation like those on YouTube. It was observed that as more and more content flows onto the social networks and into feeds, we will see an increase in the need and value of filtering.

Clearly feeds are valuable, but there are some real business model issues to be resolved as more and more mashups integrate content from across the web.

[tags]gspwest08, graphing social, feeds, lifecasting[/tags]

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