If content was king in old media, conversation is king on the Web. That is why everybody wants to control the conversation. Video commenting startup Seesmic is no exception. People can post short videos on Seesmic that other people can follow, just like on Twitter. Some blogs and Websites also make it possible for Seesmic members to comment on posts via video instead of text, as we have done here at TechCrunch. (Disclosure: TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington is an investor in Seesmic).
But today Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur rolled out a new feature that completely hijacks the conversation: threaded comments. Now, anyone with a Seesmic account can respond to a Seesmic video by hitting a reply button with in the embeddable Seesmic player, and all the responses can be seen as video thumbnails if you mouse over the bottom of the player’s screen. In other words, the responses go wherever the video goes. Here is Le Meur trying to explain the feature (but being French, he has trouble pronouncing “thread”—don’t hold that against him):
It is a pretty cool feature, but it creates a conflict with all the sites that have embedded Seesmic functionality, such as TechCrunch. We love it when people use Seesmic to comment on posts, and there is certainly something to say for threaded comments. Sometimes you want to respond to comment No. 15, but you are comment No. 74. But if these responses become swallowed within the Seesmic player itself, then it effectively gets taken out of the comment stream of that particular post. (Yes, the responses are still accessible, but people will really have to hunt for them).
Of course, comments have already left the building, so to speak. Many of the most interesting comments about a blog post may occur on Twitter or FriendFeed or some other service. Now Seesmic joins that trend. For what it is worth, Le Meur says that he will soon add the ability to attach related link to each video. But if all of these services—Twitter, FriendFeed, Seesmic, etc,—really want to play nice, they would figure out a way to automatically seed comments back into the original post that is being talked about. Who wants to create that set of APIs?
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