Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why Seesmic changes the game

Seesmic If you've been around for the past week, you may have spotted that I'm excited by Launched in October 2007 and still very much under development, Seesmic is best thought of as the video equivalent of Twitter.

So why the fuss about this fledgling, yet-another-video-sharing service? Because Seesmic changes the game as far as online video is concerned. One way or another, there are few people who don't have the capacity to record video, but it's surprising the number of people who never use the webcam built into their computer. More usually, making even the shortest video means hunting down the video camera, charging the battery, recording yourself, finding the cable, capturing the video to the computer, editing, uploading to a sharing website, waiting for file conversion to be completed and the video to become available online and then sharing the URL. For all but the most dedicated geeks, this just isn't going to happen, any more than blogging would have happened if it involved making the ink and the paper, plucking the quills, writing your post in Latin or Greek, waiting for it to dry, popping it in a bottle and throwing it into the sea.

Seesmic changes the game because it brings the entire video process into realtime. Record, send, done. And like Twitter, the shorter the better - you're not David Attenborough. No waiting for video capture or conversion. Not only does this lower the barrier to participation, it makes conversation possible. And the architecture of conversation is inherent in Seesmic, as you quickly realize when you use the site and get your first comments back. Typing? forget it, it's so last month, man. I've been critical of the fact that most of the user generated video online consists of talking heads, and that's exactly what you get on Seesmic. But Seesmic is different because these videos are part of a conversation, where people talk to each other face to face.

I'm enormously excited about the possibilities that Seesmic (and the clones which will follow it) offer for communicating with students, such as the possibilities for student feedback (in both directions):
I've read your essay and...

Dr Cann, can you show me how to...
In fact, I'm so interested in Seesmic that I've changed my plans. Now I can't see me buying a 3G iPhone next month, unless it has a built in video camera and runs Flash. I'm even prepared to forgo the drooling Apple shinyness to get a lumpier device which can access Seesmic (are you listening Steve?). Seesmic presently calls itself an alpha release, and openly acknowledges that it has rough edges (while asking contributors to the site to help fix them). The interface is coded in Flash, which creates accessibility issues for some disabled users. So does that mean that we can't use Seesmic for students? We can if we follow Brian Kelly's advice about Accessibility 2.0 and risk management of outsourced IT provision.

So stop whining, buy yourself a 20 quid webcam and join the conversation. And for once, please don't leave me a comment below ;-)
Go to Seesmic and sign up, then send me your comment face to face (and add the URL to the comments thread below so the cavemen can see how much fun we're having).


  1. s this the right url?


    ...but you may want to open with caution. :)

  3. @stu - You generated a few replies there :-)

    @alun - thanks for the comment on Seesmic!

  4. So seesmic is doing audio transcription and making the conversations transparent to web search too? Cool.... ;-) err... oh - so i can't search into a conversation and discover it that way...? hmmm - so i have to bve part of/following the conversation to get into it?? hmmm... pardon? shared office environment - no sound and no headphones... amd lopw bandwodth connection too....pardon me? PARDON? WHAT DID YOU SAY??? err....?

  5. Yes, it's a bit of a walled garden with regard to search. Can you recommend a site which is better in that regard and offers the same facilities? It's not all about open-ness, it's also about functionality.
    The compression seems to be pretty good and deals with low bandwith as good as any present generation video is going to.
    And we proved this morning that Seesmic works as well in a shared office environment as that other emerging technology - the telephone. Sheesh, imagine what it would be like working in an office if EVERYONE had their own phone?!?

  6. Hi Alan,

    Left a video reply for you talking about a few things you may be interested in using :-)

    *apologies for the length!* ><


  7. I've done a few test videos using Disqus and Seesmic over on my blog if you want to see how they turn out (

    Seems like a great way to move people from the main Seesmic site over to your blog in order to have the conversation. I'll admit that with the tree-reply layout it's visually much easier to see who is replying to which video, while still staying a part of the main discussion. Definitely a lot neater ;-)

    Feel free to post a reply if you have any questions. Hopefully FriendFeed will have updated my video comments and I'll get a chance to see if they connect to my blog reply system effectively.

    *whoops, forgot to include the link to my blog!*

  8. Hi Jake, thanks for the comments I don't like Disqus for a number of reasons, including the fact that I can't modify the css on and other reasons:

    I use and find that it works well for me.

  9. i agree seesmic does change the game fundamentally and my nice iphone seems somewhat crippled since it has no flash. i've even gone so far as to add seesmic video comments to my blogger blog.

    you thinking about it?

  10. Yes, Seesmic makes lack of Flash on the iPhone a much more serious problem. I'm hoping Apple will make that go away next month ;-)

  11. 2008/5/26 Alun wrote:
    > Utterz looks interesting. There's integration with, Pownce and the metaweblog api.

    Thanks for the links.
    Utterz seems to be focusing on mobile, going head to head with Ustream and Brightkite. The architecture doesn't seem as likely to promote conversation as Seesmic.

    > Phreadz will have integration with Seesmic amongst other sites along with images, text, audio and links.

    Early days for Phreadz clearly, so we'll need to see how it pans out. I agree with TechCrunch that there is a danger they may lose the focus on conversation and just become another YouTube (although I just left my first ever video response on YouTube, so there are conversations going on there too). The most important thing is an actively participating user community as we see on Seesmic right now - YT has always been rather passive.