How the New Facebook Utterly Destroyed my Favorite Application (and Why That Makes Me Sad)

I used to love Feedheads. It’s a simple, elegant and beautiful application that does one thing really well: help you share your Google reader shared items.

Unfortunately, the “new” Facebook has rendered the application utterly useless and I can’t think of a good way, as an end-user, to fix it. In fact, as someone who’s built two facebook apps, I can’t even think of a way that the Feedheads developers can fix it. What a calamity.

So here’s the problem: the News Feed (and the Mini Feed) introduced an option that allows end-users to set the story “size.” When a Google shared item story comes through Feedheads now, it defaults to the “one line” size and as a result, it doesn’t say anything other than “Chris posted an item to Feedheads.”

Thank you very much, Facebook. That piece of information is completely useless. People who are reading your feed need to click through into the Feedheads application in order to see what story you posted — and the whole point of Feedheads is to help you share your shared items, not make them harder to find.

(As a result of all this, Facebook also broke one of my applications, called WhyI. It has < 200 users, so very few people care, but . . . the point of the app was to help people ask themselves and their friends questions that have to be answered in five words or fewer. And of course, the questions and answers would show up in the Mini Feed and News Feed. But not anymore! Now it just says: “Chris posted a new mini-update using WhyI.” Again, a totally useless piece of information. Drats.)

As an end-user, I can set the “size” of each feed item. So that means, after I hit Shift-S in Google Reader — which doesn’t take much effort — I have to wait for the story to be published in Facebook and then, if I remember (which at this point is unlikely), I have to go into that little drop down on the right and set the size to “small” instead of the default, which is “one line.” And here’s the best part: I can’t tell Facebook to remember this, so I have to do it every time.

All this just to share a shared item on Google Reader through Feedheads . . . ick.

Here’s the best part. I just noticed that Facebook added their own feature to the new and “improved” news feed. You can import your shared items from Google Reader! And, not surprisingly, the news feed actually shows the stories’ titles. In other words, Facebook took a great application — Feedheads — and replaced the functionality with their own feature; in the process, they rendered Feedheads useless.

This makes me sad. I only have one thing to say:

Wow, Facebook, how very Microsoft of you.

3 Replies to “How the New Facebook Utterly Destroyed my Favorite Application (and Why That Makes Me Sad)”

  1. Hi Chris, thought you might like to know posting to mini-feed is fixed, I also forgot to mention last time another cool feature the app provides for your profile on the new design is tabs! You can see my shared items tab on my profile

    http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506648541

    If you have any suggestions on how can I make Feedheads better and get you to spend more time using it please let me know, my email is mariorz[at]gmail

    Oh, I’m definitely starting a blog.

  2. Hi Mario,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you know how to fix this and that you’re working on it. I’d love if you’d blog (or comment here) about any problems you encounter along the way. I remember when building WhyI, I struggled with the feed templates and it took me forever to get them to work the way I wanted.

    I get the point of Feedheads and I’ve been to Feedheads.org. I just don’t spend any time there and I don’t think I ever will. The only sites I really use on the internet every day are meebo, Google Reader (and search) and Facebook. So while I appreciate what you’re trying to do at Feedheads, I’m never going to spend any time on feedheads.org or on the app pages inside Facebook. I only really care about the newsfeed functionality, which I think (until Facebook broke it) was a killer app.

    Best regards,
    Chris

  3. Hi! I’m the developer of Feedheeads, this is deffnetly fixable, I’m working on this, it’s really just a matter of registering the appropiate template bundles and beeing sure to use fb:prompt-permission on new users.

    I’ll be fixing this ASAP as long as enhancing with some other feed options.

    In any case publishing to your mini-feed while cool, I wouldn’t say that’s what Feedheads is about. Check out http://feedheads.org

    cheers!
    Mario Romero

Leave a Reply