UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Experiments With Seesmic

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 7 July 2008

I recently met Alan Cann and he mentioned to me how he has been exploring the potential of the Seesmic video micro-blogging service in a learning context. This renewed my interest in the Seesmic service – so I have started to evaluable its potential to support the forthcoming IWMW 2008 event.

My intention is to post a number of short video clips prior to the event which will describe some of the things that will be taking place at the event. I will also be inviting video responses from the IWMW 2008 delegates and others who have an interest in the event.  I’ve created a page on the IWMW 2008 Web site in which the Seesmic video posts are embedded. The first video post (illustrated below) provides an introduction to the event, and further posts are planned which will describe the IWMW 2008 bar camp, the innovation competition, the IWMW 2008 social network, the plenary talks, workshop sessions and the social activities planned for our time in Aberdeen.

Use of Seesmic

But what about the limitations of the services and the risks which use of the tool may entail? After all, I’ve previously suggested that when making use of new tools we need to be honest about potential risks.

The first point to make is that, although Seesmic video clips can be embedded in other Web sites, it does not seem to be possible to export the video clips.  And from a user’s perspective we have no evidence that there will be an interest in this type of service by the intended target audience. Creating the video posts might possibly be a waste of time.

Twhirl with support for SeesmicBut despite such concerns, I will be continuing to create the video posts. Even if the video clips are not currently exportable, this could change (after all the Slideshare service did not intially allow uploaded PowerPoint files to be downloaded from the service, but a download option was subsequently added to the service). And even though it cannot be guaranteed that an export function will be provided in the future I still feel it is worth evaluating a service such as this in order to gain experiences which could be transferred to other services.

And it is very interesting to read on Rafe Needleham’s blog that Twirl will be providing support for Seesmic video posts. As can be seen from the accompanying screenshot, the textual display of ‘tweets’ can be complemented by an accompanying video. And with many laptops having cameras bundled in with them and many mobile phones now also providing video facilities, perhaps this is the next stage in the development of the communications infrastructure of what is often refererd to as Web 2.0.

I should conclude by saying that following my first few Seesmic blog posts I have received a number of interesting replies.  In particular it was suggested that there is a need to ensure that any responses to an inital video post are kept on topic – unlike text it is not easy to quickly skim a video post.  I have therefore created a general Seesmic video post which I’m happy to be used for general responses – I’ll keep any responses to the IWMW 2008 video posts to their stated purpose.

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5 Responses to “Experiments With Seesmic”

  1. Hi, despite being all in favour of multiple modes of access and multimedia presentation for education I am wondering is Seesmic a solution search of a problem? Brian, you’ve already listed some of the problems. Another problem I can forsee is ghettoisation. I am thinking about those who don’t have access to the technology, or don’t want to communicate this way, or can’t e.g. because of disability. Also to participate we have to create another identity and use the web cam – just for a short asynchronous conversation? It seems a little over the top.

    The advantage of text based conversation is that is pretty adaptable. It works in screen readers can be transferred to different devices and is low on resources. It’s cheaper to produce well in terms of time.

    I think that Seesmic and other tools might have a future in education for small groups of colleagues who are separated by space and time but as a means of carrying out a national discussion I can’t see the value of the return for the effort of input – but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise!

  2. ajcann said

    The way to be convinced is to participate, as Brian and I have done. In fact, Seesmic takes less time than other forms of communication, my concerns and more about the downstream end at present, e.g. accessibility and archiving.

  3. Hi Stuart You’ve raised an interesting question – and the simple answer is that I don’t know what, if any, the particular role of a video chat tool may be. But that’s why we need to explore its potential. And one possible benefit it may have is in providing a communications mechanism for users who may not be comfortable with text-based interfaces. In addition a video interface may be particularly beneficial for mobile devices for which text input is not always easy. So potentially there may be accessibility benefits to be gained.

    I should add, though, that I am not saying that such approaches will take off – and you’ll notice that I have clearly labelled this as an experiment, which will take place in the context of IWMW 2008. Having said that, I should add that for IWMW 2005 I made some experimental use of podcasts – and I can recall people telling me back then that podcasts wouldn’t work as you couldn’t easily skim through audio materials. Nowadays, of course, podcasts are mainstream applications which are used by the BBC, in teaching and learning and across increasing numbers of institutions.

  4. Long live the experiment Brian!! Totally in favour of people trying things out. The ghettoisation problem is one I keep coming up against and I think it’s one that I want to acknowledge and for me it’s a downside to the new Web applications. I can think of a number of people who don’t want to be on Facebook, for example, but are feeling increasingly left out. Education needs to be inclusive so the technologies we adopt need to be sustainable and accessible (in every sense of that word). Now I am not saying that everything has to be lowest common denominator. Far from it, as I champion diversity of access as a means of improving accessibility but butter can be spread too thin. By which I mean if I need to deliver something low-cost e.g. a comment in an asynchronous conversation then I am going to look for the speediest most efficient way of doing it. I understand this is an experiment but in reaction to that I am wondering about the impact of actually rolling it out.

    Not convinced of Seesmic on mobiles, for now, I know they have plans but it would be very tricky to get right and pretty bandwidth hungry. Uploading, yes but participating and interacting I think it is going to need more effort and changes in how mobile width is paid for in the UK.

    But like all good experiments I am starting from the sceptic view point…

  5. Loic said

    Hi, Loic here, I created this thing called Seesmic :) Thank you so much for your interest and experimenting with us. Seesmic is a living experiment and I would like to personnally get and listen to your feedback and the features you consider are missing. Downloading your own videos is planned, and in the few weeks, as well as Creative Commons support. In fact I have blogged the roadmap here:

    http://www.loiclemeur.com/english/2008/07/the-seesmic-pro.html

    groups may be particularly interesting in your experiment, coming too very shortly.

    let me know if I can help in anything.

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