20 May 2009

Twitmatic: Use Twitter Like a Television Network

trektwitter19 05 2009 - Twitter might not be the first place you’d think to look for video entertainment. But each day, legions of Twitter users post videos of breaking news, trending topics, wacky feline antics, and so on. All you need is a better way to discover them.

Enter Twitmatic, from a company called ffwd. The second iteration of the service, launched Tuesday morning, lets you search, browse, rate, watch, and skip videos from throughout the Twitter universe with remarkable ease.

“Users are constantly sharing video links on Twitter from a huge range of sites, and it’s a natural pool of social information from which to draw out videos,” ffwd co-founder and senior developer Greg Roberts, with whom I used to work at CNET many years ago (transparency), told “[But they] are constantly clicking a link, jumping through redirects, maybe opening a new tab, until landing at a page where the video hopefully plays. We think it should be easier than that, and that each tweet should be smart enough to display the relevant content inline. ”

Search is the special sauce in this new iteration of Twitmatic, which launched two months ago. When you enter a search term, Twitmatic runs it through the Twitter API, looks for links from more than 5,000 domains known to host video (Roberts says competing services lack that sort of breadth) and imports them into the system. When other people search for the same term, the system accesses those videos faster than it did the first time, and presents the newer results. Meanwhile, in the background, Twitmatic runs searches using an index of search terms, which also helps speed things up, according to Roberts.

Aside from its transformation of Twitter into a television network for popular and arcane video, our favorite thing about Twitmatic is its no-nonsense interface. We’re hard-pressed to think of ways it could involve fewer clicks.

catsFirst, enter up to three search terms (or click straight to a trending topic):






watch_catsIn the default interface, the top video associated with your search term appears below the original tweet. Don’t like it? Click the Next button to move on — or, if you really don’t like it, click the “Video Fail” button to help other Twitmatic users avoid the video (a really helpful feature, since some folks mislabel ads as videos on Twitter):




twitmatic_listWe prefer the expandable list view, which lets you see multiple tweets associated with your search term and view each one right there on the same page. Note that there’s no “up arrow” rating; if you like something, you retweet it:





We’ve been testing this thing for a few days now, and it has performed well, channeling Twitter’s inherent chaos into a smooth, lean-back video experience. Aside from the all-important search feature, the other main improvement in this version is a native Twitter log-in. This means you can follow users, add videos to your Twitter favorites, and reply to tweets from within Twitmatic.

Source: Wired

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