What Happens When Seesmic Kills Video?

It’s clear that Seesmic is one day going to kill off their video service. They’ve demoted the video site from their main page to video.seesmic.com. Seesmic changed their focus as a company, has a nearly all new staff from 18 months ago and I think will be ending their video conversations over time.

I’m not too worried about the death of the video site, as most of the content as little value as time goes on and the community has all but died and splintered towards 12Seconds, TokBox and meeting in real life. What I’m curious about is the video comments. I know that people like Sukhjit relies to some degree on video comments for her blog. If Seesmic flips the kill switch, she loses her video comments.

This makes me wonder about how we store the content we think of as belonging to or associated with us. Seesmic might have allowed you to embed videos from their pages into your comments, but the video was always theirs. There is no button to download the videos to your server. I have a similar issue with my commenting engine Disqus, but there’s a backup. While the comments that you leave go to the Disqus servers and not the server that robblatt.com is hosted on, it’s also backed up to my servers. If I choose to uninstall Disqus, the comments won’t disappear forever.

Has the “free” economy hampered our ability to depend on the services that we use? Seesmic for video comments, Disqus for text comments, WordPress.com for blog hosting, BlogTalkRadio for audio hosting, blip.tv for video hosting, etc. What damage can these companies do to us if they decide to close shop? As unlikely as it may seem, it’s still possible. 18 months ago I wouldn’t have guessed that Seesmic would have put video on the back burner either, but it still happened.

While a white label solution or paid account might seem like the expensive route, it is the route that offers peace of mind and customer support. Is that a worthwhile trade?

20 thoughts on “What Happens When Seesmic Kills Video?”

  1. “Has the “free” economy hampered our ability to depend on the services that we use? …. What damage can these companies do to us if they decide to close shop? ” – this is the nub of your article and it is entirely valid. Nobody thought the banking system would collapse, but it damn near did.

    At least Disqus doesn't steal your comments – they still exist in your WordPress. As well as the sites you mention, the same goes for short URL services, and hundreds (thousands?) of Twitter sites. What happens when Twitter changes in order to make money? As it is, everyone howls with anguish when they even tweak their free service, let alone grow it into something actually economically viable.

  2. I agree with your comment about losing the video if the site fails or wants to drop them. I've always wanted a way for the user to control their content, share it yet keep it in their control. Like email. I like gmail but I use a old-fashioned mail app to keep archives of what I can. Even Gmail has made this not as good as in the past ( I've notice recently not all the mail comes in as it once did to my mail app ). Good to read your words.

  3. This is the problem that Sol addressed in his 12Seconds blog post. Seesmic is threaded video conversations, not social video. Our conversation is happening elsewhere, not on Seesmic. The video isn't social.

  4. I was referring to more of what Disqus offers to sync comments. Yes, you can download individual files, but how would Freida go about doing that? At this point she has more than 15,000 videos on the site. Aside from using some hackery that would take her more time than creating the content took!

  5. Thanks for the comment. Relying on third party sites has been at the forefront of my mind lately. I know that if WordPress goes under as a company, I can still run my blog on the software. If Flickr goes under, I have nowhere else that I put my photos online. I guess this is the trade that we make for server space.

  6. oddly enough, I was telling brad about something I plan to do for phreadz eventually: offer a 'render/download archive' link for users to down all their posts in a format/way for them to be 'burnable' to disc with the ability to view their own recorded posts WITH the conversation/threads in place for offline viewing – and then link to the online posts and replies of posts from others or from other places (need to be online)

    as a user of places where I've often wanted to backup/archive all my posts (before potentially deleting my account) I'd like to figure out a way to do this for phreadz users.

    It's all 'codeable' ;) like most things ;)

  7. another thing I plan to offer (it's actually already there, but not 'open') is the ability for users to to enter/store their own server ftp details, so that posts they record using phreadz get saved on their own servers – rather like blogger.com does with blog posts.

    only trouble is: the save process can take longer (unless I create a post-post queuing process) – and if their server goes away, the conversations/threads would break too -> 404

  8. Now that they've successfully destroyed Seesmic, they're going to focus on driving Twhirl into the ground.

  9. So when is the comment plugin coming? ;)

    Well, if their server goes away, then in theory that's the content they wanted to have control over. It becomes more interesting when from your point of view, their “take my ball and go home” attitude by shutting down the server would partially break your service. I think that Disqus has a good thing going when they record a copy of comments to a WP blog and to their own servers to display on their site. In that regard, you'd be creating a “backup” of the users videos on their own server, with the originals on yours. That seems like an informational and logistical nightmare to me, and I don't even want to begin to think about how that would work.

  10. “Seesmic is threaded video conversations, not social video.” “The video isn't social.” Could you explain what this means? I literally don't understand.

    Personally, I can't get into 12 seconds because the limitation makes every message feel like I'm writing an epitaph, pardon the morbidity.

  11. The video you create on Seesmic isn't meant to be social the same way that a singular forum post doesn't stand up on its own as a tweet or blog post. The intention of Seesmic Video is/was to foster conversations, not to create video to be shared. The point of 12Seconds is to create video that is to be shared. You COULD have a conversation using 12Seconds, but that's not the primary purpose.

    I got into 12Seconds by answering their challenges on a regular basis. I got the hang of the limitation over time and now I love it.

  12. One expects lots of traffic and people – and if the streets are deserted, as often is the case when no events take place, it seems like some horrible event left the buildings intact but vaporized people and providian.com animals. Maybe builders of mirror worlds should think about introducing non-player characters (NPC)? Other issues are even more important though. It seems crucial for mirror worlds to work together with local companies and authorities, who can use the environment to attract tourists for instance.

  13. Two things.
    A) Without video, what does Seesmic make? Another Twitter client? Really, what's this “good for the business” talk? It seems the only other aspect of the business (that I see at least) is piggybacking on top of another business – and doing what numerous others have done and are doing.

    B) Where are all the seesmic folks running to continue their conversations? YouTube?

    Bonus C) Anyone know what Disqus's plans are (if any) for when Seesmic drops video?

  14. Yikes! I am woefully behind in replying to you.

    a. yeah, it seems that Seesmic is currently in the twitter and facebook client business. I'm not sure how an entire company runs on this business model, especially when TweetDeck is only one man, but we'll see. They have plenty of cash to run with, so this won't end soon.

    b. The Seesmic folks have scattered into a million little places, mostly email, Twitter and 12Seconds. Every now and then there is an influx of people back to Seesmic for a night, but that's about it.

    c. Not sure, but they're a pretty communicative company. They might answer a straight to them inquiry. I would imagine they could adopt Phreadz instead.

  15. Yikes! I am woefully behind in replying to you.

    a. yeah, it seems that Seesmic is currently in the twitter and facebook client business. I'm not sure how an entire company runs on this business model, especially when TweetDeck is only one man, but we'll see. They have plenty of cash to run with, so this won't end soon.

    b. The Seesmic folks have scattered into a million little places, mostly email, Twitter and 12Seconds. Every now and then there is an influx of people back to Seesmic for a night, but that's about it.

    c. Not sure, but they're a pretty communicative company. They might answer a straight to them inquiry. I would imagine they could adopt Phreadz instead.

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