Really enjoying “pre-alpha” access to seesmic.com the new kid on the lifestream block courtesy of Loïc LeMeur. It’s a closed group for the time being and feels nicely diverse and international which makes a good change from the usual West Coast dominance. Halley Suitt’s french cracks me up as much as it did at the first Les Blogs.
The basic premise is like twitter, only in video – there’s a public timeline of new clips. Some are long and dribbly, some are short and snappy. There are lots of tests and mumbling into mics and stuff – good wholesome early day play stuff.
What Loïc’s done that’s really smart is that the outputs can leak even though the actual application is not available beyond 150 of us. So I can share a URL with you – here’s me & my ukulele. In fact, when I post a new clip this happens automagically through my twitter stream as I’ve shared my details with them. His other masterstroke is to do a daily video summary – how hard its this and how much buzz does it generate? Why don’t more startups do it? Why am I not doing it?
There are 3 options for providing video – you can share a YouTube clip, you can record using a webcam, or you can supply a .flv file. My webcam stuff has been frustrating because I can’t get the sound to work particularly well. I sound as if I have a serious lisp – whereas you all know that I actually have quite a trivial little sibilance problem… The audio ain’t great from the great MacBook iSight unwashed either, so I’m imagining it has something to do with the encoding at seesmic’s end.
So the uke clip was an experiment in getting round this by making a quick video on my camcorder capturing straight to my hard disk, quick editing & encoding as .wmv, uploading to blip.tv and then taking the resulting .flv and uploading to seesmic. Any suggestions on shortcutting this that don’t involve me buying new hardware or software are welcomed – I haven’t had a good experience yet with Riva the .flv encoder that is supposed to do the job of converting from .wmv to .flv I want to be able to do it quickly – that’s kind of the point.
There are some annoying things in the interface still. Though they’re getting fixed by the hour. I just saw Loïc twitter for example that profile pics are now working properly and sure enough they are :) I had some initial difficulties because I chose a weird user name – it all got sorted very quickly and patiently by Johann the tech guy.
Also as it’s such early days I don’t know what should work and what shouldn’t. Of course I’m willing to put up with pretty much anything. I can’t get YouTube vids to work in the seesmic screen, I have to watch them on youtube.com and some .flv uploads have stalled for me too. The buffering settings seem to need tweaking – it doesn’t download enough before starting to play so that it stalls too frequently.
It brings home for me again that you have to use these things to really grok them. If you just see someone else’s outputs, whether it’s seesmic, twitter or blogs it’s quite difficult to understand what’s going on. Let’s hope it’s open for more people soon. The really interesting behaviours will emerge I’m sure when we’ve loads of people playing. We’re still regularly finding new applications for twitter for example and I’ve been on that for nearly a year.