The creators report a # number of goals for FriendFeed beta. My responses in bold.
# A consistent look for entries, no matter where they originated from, to help you focus on what your friends are sharing
I like knowing the source of entries. I mentally prioritize based on source - Twitter is ephemeral, delicious is an indication of "something to read", a blog post indicates some serious thought. Now I can't easily tell what is what.
# A new and improved share box that can now post entries to multiple feeds
Neglects to mention that the main feature of the new share box is that (by default) it posts to Twitter as well, and (without the option to disable) it automatically includes in the tweet an ff.im link back to FriendFeed, effectively trying to redirect traffic to FF via Twitter.
# The ability to send and receive direct messages
I don't see any use for this feature, considering I can already reach people through multiple other channels, and don't need yet another inbox to check.
# Filters so you don’t miss a post from a certain friend or an entry about a specific topic
# Keyboard shortcuts for the most common commands
I don't use keyboard shortcuts, but ok.
# And, one of the most defining features of our redesign — and what we believe will underlie everything about FriendFeed from now on: real-time. There’s no longer a need for refreshing — every view in FriendFeed now updates in real-time.
This was always an option, it is now the default. You can disable it (by clicking on the pause icon.) I personally never use this except in a conference reporting room. FriendFeed is a long-form conversation, it's not Twitter, it doesn't need to bounce new information in every second, I can refresh once I've read a page.
That's the end of their # items, here are my further thoughts...
Overall this design, like the recent Facebook redesign, seems intended to copy Twitter.
* prominent user icon next to their posts: check
* real-time updating (as in Twitter search or TweetDeck): check
* direct messaging: check
* big open "what are you doing" box at the top: check
The problem is, this fundamentally breaks the model of information interaction in FriendFeed. I wrote (on FriendFeed, naturally), that I dislike FaceBook in general, but I liked FF because it was about "the social life of information". It's not people-centric, it's not "whatcha doin?"-centric, it's about people interacting with interesting information.
The redesign breaks that. From the simple standpoint of human psychology: your eye is drawn to faces. Your eye is drawn to movement. Your eye is drawn to the left edge of the screen. Your eye is drawn to bigger items first.
What FF used to put on the left: white space and small information source icons. Reaction: hmm, I will scan this information.
What it puts there now: people's face icons, constantly moving with realtime updates. Reaction: person! person! person!
So FriendFeed has taken what FaceBook and Twitter already have, and buried its own unique functionality. Why wouldn't I just use FB and Twitter then, what's the point?
Now I understand there is an underlying point about monetization, and the only money is going to be in realtime search. But the way to deal with that (as Twitter does, about which more in the next posting) is with a separate search interface, not by ruining your main user interface.
Understand that FriendFeed is my main information interface - I use it basically as a replacement for reading feeds (with FF, the news comes to me) and much more than Twitter or FaceBook. It's important to me that it work well.
There is an official channel for providing feedback (the link to which is buried at the end of the announcement in their blog) -
the area is http://beta.friendfeed.com/friendfeed-beta
I also made a poll using twtpoll (which turns out to be really easy to do - recommended)UPDATE 2009-04-11: The poll has closed, here are the results
Dislike beat like pretty handily, but on the other hand, Like plus don't care outweigh Dislike slightly.