I've been trying out some new social discussion tools recently, trying to keep up to date and figure out which ones are actually helpful.
I initially signed up to FriendFeed too early, but took a second look recently. It's an aggregator for all the random places we create content — blogs, Flickr, Twitter and so on.
On top of that it lets you add comments and "favorite" content items. So far so similar. But the really neat feature is in showing you content from friends-of-friends, if one of your friends has commented it or made it a favorite.
The result is a high signal/noise ratio in the content, and an aggregation of activity into a coherent conversation, something that's generally frustrating on blogs or Twitter alone.
Following the theme of conversation, Seesmic is a site for video conversations. I never really got into podcasting, as my production standards are higher than I think I could actually manage. Plus, who wants to hear me waffle on?
Seesmic is something different. There's no expectation of high production values, and most people are just talking through their laptop's built in camera and microphone. The real difference though is the humanity of the conversations. When you can see somebody's face and expressions it returns the soul to online debate.
I'm often turned off by the callous nastiness of comments and blog wars, so I'm interested to see if Seesmic can create a different kind of conversation. Seesmic's in alpha-testing right now, and lacks a few useful features such as tagging, but I'm really excited about using it.
For an example of an engaging, human and worthwhile debate, see this Seesmic post from Suw Charman (the topic of conversation is how to grow Seesmic while keeping it useful.)
Finally, I figured it was about time I added comments to this blog. There are several long-standing popular items that would be usefully augmented by third-party contributions, and I'd like to give people the right to reply inline if they so wished.
Hence there's now a Disqus link at the bottom of every article, and also included in the RSS and Atom feeds. I enabled the video feature, so you could leave me a video comment via Seesmic too. It's easy!