I recently had to stop Twittering. It was awful. The doctors said I would go blind.
Seriously folks, even for as big of an Internet geek as I am, I was completely overwhelmed by the massive flood of 140-character messages from friends and colleagues that bombarded me 24 hours a day. So at the time of this writing, I’m off the Twitter-pipe, for now.
But just when I thought I was out, my friendly editor/publisher of this very magazine suggests that I do my next Innovations piece on another new, hot social tool, called Seesmic. So much for cutting down on my information load.
Talk about brand new – Seesmic only recently opened its doors around the end of November 2007 and proceeded to only invite about 300 users. Luckily, I know people (plus I know how to beg), so I was able to get my hands on an exclusive “pre-alpha” invitation code.
You’re probably wondering what Seesmic even is at this point, and why you should care.
Allen Stern of CenterNetworks. com sums it up nicely: “Seesmic is a video -sharing service just like YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, etc. The difference is that Seesmic has stripped away much of the ‘extras’ that come with the other services.”
That’s a good start, but I think the best way to describe it is “Twitter plus video.” So instead of writing short text posts about anything you want and sharing it with your friends and followers, you instantly and easily record short videos, which are then shared with the community.
Imagine picking up the phone (you remember those days?) and calling one of your friends with a short thought about something on your mind. Seesmic lets you do that (sans phone), using your webcam, and gives you the option to share that short video message around the globe with your friends and colleagues, in an instant, all at once.
Getting started is easy. If you have an invitation code, you can register and immediately begin recording and sharing videos. You will have to have a webcam attached to your computer, of course. Once your video is recorded, you add a title and description and publish it to the community.
Now your video post is shown to the public, or you can choose to have it just sent to friends. Once published, other users can watch your video and they can reply to your video with their own, and so on “
Browsing the Seesmic site as it stands during pre-alpha is not so great. The Ajax-style community scroller area which shows each user’s video entries is slow and cumbersome at best. However, as mentioned earlier, they are in pre-alpha, so by the time this piece is published it will hopefully be more usable.
Your first video post is up; now what? That’s where the social aspect comes into place. Just like Facebook or MySpace or Twitter, you can choose to “follow” or “friend” other users. By doing so, you’ll be able to “watch” their Seesmic streams specifically.
To explain to you why this is innovative, I asked the exclusive base of testers for Seesmic what they thought. In my first- ever video on Seesmic, I asked the question, “What do you like about Seesmic?”
I recorded the short video (no script) asking for video responses and sat back and waited. A few minutes later, the answers started to pour in. Here are some of them. (Note: These are transcribed from videos in Seesmic.)
“I like Seesmic because it’s an unedited stream of consciousness for people. You get to know the real person.”
“Seesmic is the first application I’ve found that makes video blogging easy. I never really got into video blogging until Seesmic came around; I’m a podcaster.”
“Seesmic is like getting a book from a library with notes from other readers in it. It’s collaborative learning.”
“The reason I like Seesmic is because I don’t have to send you an email. I can send a video reply.”
“I am finding that I am getting to know people better and more quickly. It’s not just me jabbering into the camera. It’s me interacting and listening to others in video form.”
“I’m not sure I love Seesmic. I definitely fancy it. I would definitely sleep with it.”
Although I love to try out new social media technologies and I’m not married to any one, I certainly do enjoy the dating phase. And right now I’m anxious to see where my relationship with Seesmic goes.