Ken Sheppardson Subscribe to RSS Feed archives home

Summize is your Imaginary Friend


If anybody’s keeping score, I’m one of those folks who thinks that IM, SMS, email, Twitter, FriendFeed, and perhaps another two or three other services we haven’t seen yet each have their place and that no one service is likely to crush another, let alone all the others. I do find myself spending more and more time on FriendFeed, however, and for information flow that’s not time sensitive, FriendFeed and Feedly make up my dashboard.

One very handy but somewhat hidden feature of FriendFeed is the “Imaginary Friend”.

This feature allows you to add a contact with one or more associated feeds for individuals who don’t yet have a FriendFeed account. It’s also handy for bringing feeds from other services into your FF flow. For example, you can create an Imaginary Friend corresponding to a service like Summize, then add feeds for the different searches you’d like to monitor. In other words, you can reconstruct the Twitter “track” feature and have the results appear directly in FriendFeed.

To show you an example, let’s just suppose the Twitter “Replies” tab is disabled and you’ve sworn off Twitter until track and IM come back online, but you don’t want to miss messages addressed to you in Twitter. Your Imaginary Friend Summize rides to the rescue:

Step 1 — Generate a feed URL on Summize

First head off to Summize and perform whatever search you’d like to save. The advanced search features are VERY handy, and let you do things like search for all mentions of your Twitter ID that aren’t in messages from you. For me, that search string is “kshep -from:kshep”.
Once you’ve performed that search you’ll find a link in the upper right corner of the results page with the URL for your query. Right-click on the link and copy the link for future use.

Step 2 — Create your Imaginary Friend

Next, over on FriendFeed go to the “friend settings” tab, choose “imaginary” from the top nav bar, and enter the name of your new friend. Once you’ve created this friend, you can add services associated with the friend just as you would add feeds to your own account. In this case we’ll pretend the Summize search feed is just a blog. Go ahead and click on the “Blog” link and enter the URL you generated in Step 1.
If you’d like, you can add multiple feeds to the Summize friend, one for every “track”-style search you’d like to perform. Of course there’s some latency in this approach that you don’t have to deal with when you’re using the Twitter track feature, but with the track feature offline for the foreseeable future and more and more users splitting their time between the two services, sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

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