FriendFeed has a new way for users to keep track of conversations in real time, and it may be the first thing the company has done that I just plain don't like. It runs in Adobe AIR and pops up with small notifications every time there's activity on your home feed or a selected friends list. If you can catch the notification window in time, it even lets you post a response without having to fire up your browser.
The company introduced a similar system that does the same thing through instant messaging back in November of last year. However, this new version is not nearly as advanced, nor is it set up to handle the avalanche of information most of its users are bound to face.
Its major shortcoming is that it doesn't let you pick the types of activity you want to see notifications for. In my case, I use the IM notifier tool to see activity around items I've just posted. This lets me respond to questions, or comments about something I've just posted to my home feed either directly, or from one of my feeds from another service.
With this tool you get the entire fire hose of information which, if you've ever viewed in real time you know, can be too fast to keep up with. On the desktop, that amounts to a never-ending parade of pop-up notifications, something I could only put up with for about 15 minutes before turning the application off.
On the other hand, some users may love this. The tool lets you stay abreast of new content without having your browser window up, or opening yourself up to conversing with people in your IM contact list. For some that may be a good reason to keep it installed. Me? Not until I can whittle down the information stream to something a little more reasonable.