Only the Beginning

beatlesOn Friday the FriendFeed founders Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit debuted a radical redesign of the product for about 15 journalists, technologists, and Robert Scoble. We were asked not to discuss the details until Monday morning at 9AM Pacific. I’ve been playing with the beta for the last few hours and have already come to several conclusions about what this means for the social media community and by extension enterprise computing.

First, the disruption occurring around the realtime universal message bus invented by Twitter has now spread much more widely than commonly anticipated. Twitter’s breakout in the mainstream media hints at the speed with which this technology is moving, as does Dave WIner’s fascination with harnessing Twitter while at the same time questioning the validity of a single commercial company’s dominance of the space.

Some analysts have suggested that Twitter has moved past and consumed RSS at the center of the information machine. As newspapers and other print vehicles appear to collapse, the common concerns expressed about the permanent loss and funding of the fourth estate ignore the rise of a superclass of information creation. What some call the fallow ego-driven spew of the Warholian elites is more likely to be seen in the rear view mirror as something more akin to body painting and ultimately jazz.

Without directly violating the embargo, what FriendFeed 2.0 suggests is the capture of the sense of the moment. Like a Kennedy press conference or the incredible rhythm trills of Lennon on the roof in Get Back, we’re seeing something electric and tangible appearing out of nothing. I dive in and swim in the current, swooping from swirl to eddy, then into direct communication and back to the world I’ve left behind for a moment. It still takes several moves to accomplish a single task, but the handwriting is on the wall and the time is near when we can pick up where we left off months ago.

What’s exhilirating is that the vague assumptions, arrogant exploits, twinkling of an ephemeral joke, they all are being ratified in a swirl of innovation that is dazzling in its ability to masquerade as superficial and childish. How strange it is to see major corporations act like teenagers while jousting for position in the transition. The dynamics of cloud computing have unleashed a paroxysm of hardball for control of the big freakin’ webtone switch, with the phrase’s inventor reportedly facing off against his successor to protect his legacy.

Whether the drama is real or window dressing for a nuts and bolts takeover is not so much the point, just as tweeting was never about what you’re doing for breakfast. What’s more truthful is that moment when someone has that flash of insight and dives through the wormhole to the moment when the like-minded take it for a ride. Like a comedy preview, when the laughs fall in the right places and the audience syncs up with the story and is carried away, so too does this realtime message bus become an irresistible force of nature.

We’re seeing a new Beatles emerging in this new morning of creativity, a series of devices and software constructs that empower us with both the personal meaning of our lives and the intuitive combinations of serendipity and found material and the sturdiness that only rigorous practice brings. The ideas and sculpture, the rendering of this supple brine, we’ll stand in awe of it as it is polished to a sparkling sheen. This is not a beta period, though each element is maturing rapidly. It’s a wave of Sully’s guiding each ship to a safe landing.

This embargo is a gift, letting us feel the raised lettering on the white cover, pouring over the vibrant dissolution of one era and the brisk tart smell of the air as we start the day. What a delicious feeling, the sense of limitless possibilities even as we know everything will end only to begin again. Over and over, we hear the same wondrous realization, that building has this incredible stage where you get something roughed out and then stand back and let it tell you what it might be.