Flavors of the month

I’ve been reading all the noise about Google Friend Connect and Facebook from an amused distance.

Google Friend Connect is very similar to something like Yahoo’s MyBlogLog where website publishers (someone like me) can build an instant community around their blog, right on their blog. Widgetized social networks, if you will.

I get that Google isn’t actually retaining any Facebook data so that whole thing around Facebook blocking access is kind of silly. Let’s say that “Jill’s Curly Hair Blog” has Friend Connect on it, and my Facebook friend Mary joins that network. It will only impact me as Mary’s friend if I join the site too. Then I’ll be able to say, “Oh! Hey, my friend Mary is here.” Otherwise, the fact that Mary and I are Facebook friends remains between Mary and me. If my Facebook friend Pete joins “Bob’s Muscle Cars Rule” blog, my life (and my data) won’t change, other than my seeing that fact in a news stream on Facebook or on Pete’s profile.

I never joined MyBlogLog because I can’t see the practical utility of it. Either for my site or as a participant on someone else’s. If there is a thread that interests me and I want to be a part of that conversation, I do so by either leaving a comment or blogging about it knowing that the pingback will leave a trail. But ongoing “membership” on someone’s personal blog? Not so much. Especially if it depends on the sites/communities I care about also belonging to MyBlogLog or Friend Connect.

That’s why I like FriendFeed, Twitter, del.icio.us, Google Reader shared feeds, etc. If someone likes what I have to say, they’ll build community around it by sharing it to places that people go to see what people they care about are sharing. They don’t necessarily need to make a commitment to my site and turn over their avatar to appear in a little window for my site to be part of the global conversation.

Sure, the larger more well-known sites have hundreds of members, but when I click around MyBlogLog it doesn’t take long to see that the vast majority of sites have so few members it looks a little pitiful.

I would much rather see the ability to search Facebook friends to see common friends on Twitter or FriendFeed, than to see on a blog I’m visiting which of my friends also reads the same blog. The web is fractured enough. We need more aggregation and filtering, and less mini communities that will only make the small blog publisher feel more out of the loop when their numbers don’t stack up.

I guess I’m just waiting for all this to solve a unique problem, rather than just exist to compete for attention within the tech blogging echo chamber. I want to see Google pay more attention to making their own Gmail contact data more usable for their users than worrying about connecting users to Facebook data.

I’m also hoping that video comments on blogs die a quick and painful death.

I love well-produced online video as much as anyone else. The best talking head videos are that way because people work hard to make sure the sound and lighting are good, and they know what they’re going to say before they open their mouths.

When I’m scanning a comment thread, I have absolutely no desire to see what someone has to say on the subject sitting there in their pajamas, mumbling into their webcam in a dimly lit room with some sort of strange feedback buzz over it all. I don’t need to hear them fumble for words…um, I think…you know…um, like…

If I’m reading a blog and my family is nearby, I’m not going to click on a video comment that may or may not have language on it that I don’t want my children to hear. I may be in a public place. I may already have headphones on because I’m listening to something else and I’m not going to stop iTunes just to hang on their every word waiting for them to say something profound. Sorry.

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