Read/Write Web

Playing with Friendfeed vs. Twitter

What with the flaky nature of Twitter of late, I've been playing around with Friendfeed, the social networking tool that allows you to build a customised feed made up of content that friends on other collaborative sites have shared, including news articles, photos, Twitter posts, and weblog postings. Basically it is a web presence stream catching tool.

In addition to displaying the content, the FriendFeed interface on the web, and on clients such as Twhirl or MySocial 24x7, allow you to comment on an item. For example in Twitter if you want to comment you @reply to the individual. The item is posted chronologically, and this makes it difficult to follow conversations. For example this morning Steve Dembo and Ryan Bretag are having a Twitter discussion about the merits of interactive clicker type tools in the classroom. It started last night and continues on this morning, but it is hard to follow on Twitter. In FriendFeed comments are nested with the original Tweet/post. As others comment on the posting they are added along with yours. You also have the option of sending an @reply directly to Twitter. Kind of a foot in both worlds. (the Friendfeed web interface and MySocial 24x7 allow this, Twhirl has not yet implemented this feature.)

I also like that you can follow a friend's web contributions. For example FriendFeed allows you to aggregate posts to sites such as YouTube, Flickr and over 40 other web sites/tools. I am finding that I like following friends and collegues in this manner, rather than jumping around from various sites to see if they have posted anything new.

Update: Another feature of FriendFeed is something they call Rooms. Basically private spaces that a team or workgroup could set up to have a Twitter like discussion area, but only viewable to those that you allow in. Might be useful in a school or classroom setting...


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Stanza: ebook reading and export tool for Mac OS

Stanza, currently in beta, is an electronic book reading application for Mac OS which also allows you to export content for use on a variety of portable devices. It features the ability to customize the display of text in multiple column layouts or in full screen mode. Scrolling can be set to advance automatically, like a teleprompter, based on your reading speed, or manually. You can import content from a variety of sources including directly from the Project Gutenberg site. It also provides for the ability to export content to mobile devices such as the iPhone and the Amazon Kindle.

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I spent some time this morning playing with Stanza and went to the Project Gutenberg site and found the listing for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. I copied the url for the full text version and used the Open Location feature in Stanza to download and display the book. Stanza went out and got the file and displayed the book in the default view. I then used the export feature to create versions for my iPhone and for my Kindle.

The export to the iPhone is accomplished by converting the content to a .plist file (bookmarklet file) and then importing the bookmarklet into Safari. Once imported the content is transfered to your phone on your next sync. Once it is on your iPhone you can customize the reading experience including the ability to auto-scroll the text at various rates of speed based on your reading speed. As noted in their FAQ, very large books, or documents can slow down your the iPhone browser when initially opening the document.

I tried to use the open location feature to display a print friendly article from the New York Times, but ran into an issue with authenticating on the Times site. I worked around this by displaying the print friendly version of the article and then selecting and copying the text of the article. Stanza has an import form clipboard command that then imported and displayed the article.

Stanza is an interesting way to display and read text on your Mac. It's ability to export in various mobile formats makes it a great tool for getting content on your mobile devices.

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Author Uses Amazon Kindle to Beta Test New Book

ReadWriteWeb has an interesting post about an author, Daniel Oran, who is using's Kindle ebook device and sales platform to fine tune his book before publishing. Oran is allowing Kindle users to download his latest draft of Believe for 99¢. The author is using the Amazon discussion and review areas for readers to provide feedback as the author works to fine tune his book for final publication. After gathering reader feedback, the author plans to publish the book in the traditional method. Proceeds from sales during the beta period will benefit Neediest Cases Fund.