- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
You may have missed it, but Monday’s news that Facebook acquired FriendFeed made a big splash in the (comparatively small) pool of FriendFeed users. According to the announcement, “FriendFeed.com will continue to operate normally for the time being.”
Reaction on FriendFeed ranged from congratulations to angst that the party might be over.
The announcement got me thinking about contingency planning.
You see, here at the Foundation we use FriendFeed to share links. We also use other free services, from Twitter to Google Docs. Our Learn the Lingo posts are full of these sorts of tools. They give us real value for finding friends and getting collaborative work done. And we love free.
But that doesn’t mean these services will be around tomorrow.
So before we commit too much time to any free service, we ask ourselves a few questions:
- How long a life will the project have? The longer the timeframe or the more user investment (time, training, notification) required, the greater the risk.
- At what point should we consider plan B? Perhaps a list of alternative services is enough, which we may already have from evaluating the project.
- Is there an API that can get our data out of a service?
- Including comments? Lots of APIs give access to posts, but not necessarily comments.
With these questions, I can get a pretty good picture of what risks to pass along to a project team. As usual, the biggest challenge is communication—especially when public users are involved.
Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that free and forever seldom mix.