REVIEW

Software Review: Seesmic Look - Twitter For The Masses

January 22, 2010
Aaman Lamba

Innovation comes in little steps, it has been said, until one finds a new paradigm has been reached, and then its like things were always that way. Back in the old days, as it were, a telephone connection was a wondrous thing, connoting affluence of sorts, or at the very least, connections to the powerful.

Connections have become the currency of the social age, and a telephone is no more a means to share news and views with people one knows. It is fair to say that more information is broadcast to strangers today than to one's own family. This might explain the explosion in popularity of services like Twitter, which allow you to listen to the chatter of the masses as much as to the thoughts of the powerful.

There still seems to be a magical barrier though that Internet communication services have not yet crossed - that between the extraordinary and the mundane, where a mode of communication becomes commonplace enough to be accessible without needing to learn how to use it.

Seesmic claimed to have cracked the puzzle with their launch of Seesmic Look, a new Twitter client built on Microsoft's Silverlight platform, styled with Windows 7 thematic elements, and Tablet-friendly.

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It is structured into channels that move in and out of the central space. Lists finally become easy to view and navigate, appearing as sub-folders in the Social space. Tweets vary in size as you scroll up and down, a somewhat disconcerting effect at first. The fonts are also not one's first preference, and there doesn't seem to be any way to tweak the interface other than to switch between light and dark.

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Hot topics and trends have their own zone, and are visible even to not-logged in users. This is the first innovative step as Seesmic Look provides a preloaded set of channels and topics, giving the general Internet user a look-see without having to sign up. This does not translate to ubiquity but does increase the curiousness factor, making Seesmic Look more immersive than the lame Twitter home page. The application carries a 'Powered by Twitter' seal, quite unusual among third-party apps.

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The most interesting innovation is the Playback mode, where recent tweets appear and disappear as floating bubbles. The effect palls after a while, though.

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The channels are actually sponsored timelines by brands such as Red Bull, the Huffington Post, and Time. A channel has its own color theme and logo. Photographs and videos auto-expand, though not all sites. It isn't a feature regular users will stay with much, though.

Seesmic Look has really nailed Twitter Lists, with the easy navigation between a list and the main timeline. I'm running Windows 7 and the UI renders beautifully. There is an occasional graphic glitch though where a blue bar that appears when you switch windows from Look to another application. The application does freeze occasionally when scrolling through the timeline. The 'in reply to' link between a response and the original tweet also seems to have been lost in the interface design. A final quibble is the poor placement of the refresh button - bottom right of the window, leading one to click the settings button which is right next to the update bar on top.

Overall, it is a good departure from the norm and fits more smoothly into the new Windows UI metaphors than Adobe AIR apps, for example. The television-style interface and glossy feel will draw it many followers, although it will be hard to measure Twitter usage uptick purely as a result of Seesmic Look.

Aaman Lamba is the Publisher of Desicritics.org, a Blogcritics network site. He also blogs, more infrequently nowadays, at Audit Trails Of Self
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Software Review: Seesmic Look - Twitter For The Masses

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Author: Aaman Lamba

 

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