Friday, March 27, 2009

the skinny on skimmer

It was only a couple of weeks ago I sent this email to everyone at Poke:

Subject: Will someone please invent...

Body: app/client that acts as a single inbox for ALL incoming messages in my life:

- email
- twitter
- facebook
- sms

Unless I'm missing something and it already exists??

and......... Go!

Fallon's new Adobe AIR app, Skimmer isn't quite that. But it's a great effort at lassooing (is that a word?) lots of your interactions together in one neat place. Namely, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Blogger and Youtube.

I'm not going to analyse it from a technical point of view. I can't. And I'm lazy.
But I thought I'd do a rundown of my initial thoughts/feelings after playing around with it for a day or two.

If you're a geek, read this instead.
If you like sweeping statements and a more touchy-feely analysis, read on:

As you'd expect, to make use of this aggregator, you need to enter your user name and password for each property. Let's not get into privacy issues here. Let's just enjoy ourselves.
What I really liked was the feeling of locking in each account at a time. It reminded me of what Russell Davies refers to as social docking. Each password that was accepted was like snapping another pipe onto the Skimmer machine. Mmmm, snappy.

It had a similar appeal to completing more of your LinkedIn profile and seeing visual feedback for it. Anyway..

I really like the idea of Skimmer. But I quickly realised its downfall, for me.

It's so beautifully designed; so neat; so swish that all the life is sucked out of each of the properties. All the nuances and energy from Facebook, Twitter etc is lost. It's like getting together a group of interesting, funny, passionate people and filtering their voices through a generic computerised synthesiser.

Context is vital to communication. Not just visual and cultural context, but semantic context too. I.e. Every time I read a message I had to check to see which account it was coming from before I 'got it'. And because Skimmer's design language naturally floods the application, your eyes have a little work to do to locate the right logo to get the full picture.

None of this should take away anything from the intention behind the app. And maybe (although I suspect not) the app will evolve to allow the tone and character of these properties to come through more. But I for one have already returned to the bosom of Twitter et al to marvel and wallow in their unique energies.

If there's a moral - which I suppose would help this post have a point - it would be:
If you're bringing things together, remember that it's those things that people want to engage with. So maybe I don't want that all-in-one inbox after all.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home