So I’m now trying out a third Lifestream utility – well fourth or fifth if you include the people bar on Flock or the solution I cobbled together using Facebook applications. Thanks to an article on TechCrunch this morning, I’m trying out a beta release of SocialThing! alongside FriendFeed and Plaxo Pulse.
I have to say, I didn’t set out to run three in parallel. I tried out FriendFeed to use as a replacement for the multiple applications on Facebook. The big problem with those was that not all of them updated automatically – thanks to limitations in the applications, some of them often needed a kick to get updates to be registered. FriendFeed takes feeds from all of the sites I use day to day, and posts them eventually into my Facebook feeds. Thanks to the way FriendFeed works – using RSS feeds, plus the vagaries of updates to the Facebook mini-feed it does sometimes take a little while for updates to get through.
The Plaxo Pulse account came as a side effect of my having given Plaxo a go for trying to get my address book and calendar details transferred to home. Again this is using RSS feeds for updates so is a bit slow.
Having said that, whilst both sites bring together all of my own updates, they don’t bring together all my friends updates unless they also sign up to the relevant site. FriendFeed has a couple of contacts, as does Plaxo, but on my people bar on Flock there are massively more people. The other annoyance with Flock is that the people bar is totally independent on each of the different computers that I am running it on.
This is the particular advantage of SocialThing!. Unlike FriendFeed and Plaxo Pulse it isn’t working on RSS feeds – instead, in much the same way as Flock it uses the various API’s provided by the supported sites to link all of your information together. Again as with Flock this limits the number of supported third-party sites, however it does mean that it gives me a complete view of all of my friends in one place without them having to sign up on the SocialThing! site.
SocialThing! have a new little FAQ document which explains the differences between what they are trying to do and FriendFeed. Whilst I can see from the explanation how they’re different, my thought is that to the man on the street the difference is pretty subtle, FriendFeed, SocialThing! and Plaxo Pulse, along with a number of other sites are all doing essentially the same thing, and certainly a good few of them are going to fall by the way side.
Having said that, on initial impressions if SocialThing! can get things into the Facebook mini-feed and also support my blog, that would remove the need for FriendFeed… Equally if FriendFeed can pull in all my friends from various services automatically in the same way as SocialThing! has done, then I could go with FriendFeed – and of course the same applies to Plaxo Pulse. They are all doing slightly different things, which if combined would offer me the solution I wanted. Until then, I guess I’m going to continue looking like a Lifestream Junkie…