Today, Allen Stern has a provocative post in which he wonders whether Del.icio.us, by forever delaying its 2.0 release, might have squandered a chance to become Friendfeed.
Had Delicious (and Yahoo) moved faster on the release could they have become what's hot with FriendFeed today? I get that FriendFeed allows you to share your delicious bookmarks. But what I am talking about here is something much bigger strategically. By "sitting" on the release, the team lost their chance to move the strategy forward.
Delicious has "saving", FriendFeed has "liking". These are basically the same thing except that Delicious saves for the long-term and has tagging while FriendFeed is basically for the short-term. That's where Delicious stops and FriendFeed picks up.
I love FriendFeed. It’s a great way to capture your present. In fact, I think it answers the question “What am I doing now?” better than Twitter does. But Stern glosses over a fundamental difference between the two applications. Del.icio.us is all about organizing information for later reference, while FriendFeed is built for real-time communication and sharing. This isn’t to say the two services don’t have architectural similarities, but their missions are different. Hopefully, this brief table captures what I mean.
Conversation and Communication
Reference and Recall
Stern’s post mentions this now vs. later dynamic, but I think he misses the importance of the distinction. Del.icio.us has social features, but when you save something to Del.icio.us you’re saying something very specific to your friends and network: “I will need this in the future. You might also need this in the future.”
Obviously, you can say the same thing via FriendFeed; Del.icio.us was one of the flagship services supported in Frienfeed. But with FriendFeed, you’re also saying a bunch of other things. What you’re doing. Reading. Watching. Listening. There’s a lot of noise.
But with Del.icio.us, you don’t want noise. You want focus. That’s why you tag things. Tagging makes it easier to find what you’ve saved.
Maybe everyone doesn’t use Del.icio.us the way I do, but I have an internal editor. Am I saving it for now? Or for later? What tags should I use? How can I make sure I find this site quickly when I need it? I don’t have that conversation with FriendFeed because FriendFeed captures everything I do automatically. When I save something on Del.icio.us, I’m signaling to you that what I’ve saved is important. It has value in the future.
I’ll close by repeating the comment I left on FriendFeed: I think people undervalue what's so great about del.icio.us. Better than any other Web site, Del.icio.us (along with its Firefox add-on) functions beautifully as a personal, extremely useful map of the Web. I wonder whether the tech-o chamber tends to overvalue social media and undervalue important, foundational functions, such as information collection and quick reference. It's worth asking the question: could FriendFeed do what Del.icio.us does? My answer is no.
Should Del.icio.us enhance their social offerings? Absolutely, but those social features should enhance its position as a superior engine for reference, recall, and recommendations.