Some time back – right before the clock turned over for the new year – a service called Pummelvision started making the rounds. It didn’t get very far, but a few high profile folks used it. Essentially what it did was take videos from your Facebook albums, compile them into a rapid-fire slideshow, put some funky music behind it, and automatically upload it to YouTube.
Like the early-adopter lemming that I am, I tried out the service. A few of my Facebook friends openly mocked me for allowing a junky looking video hit my timeline, I took the beating, and went on with my life.
Today, though, I caught a brief review of the service from The Next Web, who dubbed the service “beautiful.”
I couldn’t disagree more.
I reshared the post on Google Buzz, which I tagged to also go to Twitter. My exact review was:
These things suck… There were entrants years ago at SxSW that were much better than this.
My Extended (Bad) Review
Pummelvision certainly doesn’t deserve the accolades it has been getting from early adopters or the few reviewers who’ve given it the time of day. There are dozens of services out there for creating a video slideshow of your images on a myriad of services. I’ll talk about one of my favorites (one that I discovered at SxSW ‘09) a little later called Animoto, but I know I’ve seen a handful designed to work with Flickr’s API, and the slideshow maker built into Picasa is truly top-notch.
Pummlvision doesn’t allow any customization of your slideshow, no selection of background music, and doesn’t even have the decency to full-size your images in the video box, let alone offer a 1080p video.
It’s not a good way to create a video slideshow, nor is it a good way to view images. Some people like it, but judging from folks who’ve I shown it to, most don’t.
Why Am I Writing This?
The short reason is that Jake Lodwick is a bit of a smartass.
Here’s the long reason …
I linked to what Pummelvision created for me (which you can see embedded on top of this post).
Sometimes dlvr.it double posts these items. Of the gazillions of posts on Twitter about Pummelvision, the folks at the service decided to respond to my tweet on their company account:
It’s not the worst flame-back I’d ever received by any measure. It is noteworthy, though, because it came directly from the company account, and it was a snide way of insulting my intelligence (“yeah, so you don’t like my service, but you clearly don’t know how to use Twitter”).
Curious to see who this cheeky bastard was, I looked at the about page on Pummelvision’s website:
I don’t have any major beefs with Jakob Lodwick (better known as one of the founders of Vimeo and the ill-fated and ill-managed Muxtape), although I have to imagine he’s a bid of an odd duck, and certainly not someone I’d enjoy hanging out with if even a quarter of the stuff I’ve heard about him (via his personal blog [obeastiality.com] and press clippings) are true.
What I posted on Buzz/Twitter was true. I’d seen much better services years ago – services that continue to exist. I created both the afore-linked Pummelvision video in about 30 seconds … I also created the video embedded below in Animoto in about 30 seconds.
In short, Animoto provides a huge array of customization options, and provides a much more aesthetically pleasing experience for the viewer.
This is Symptomatic of a Larger Problem in the Social Ecosphere
This whole thing hints at what I think may be a larger problem right now in the social ecosphere. I really don’t have the energy (or the time) to give this idea a proper treatment right now in my normal 3000 word style, but what I’m seeing is a lot of one hit wonders riding the coattails of viral nature of social networks.
Because Facebook and Twitter are completely omnipresent, and because the iPhone and Android are such great and growing platforms, one-hit-wonder apps are now viable business models.
Last week when Michael Sean Wright and I were in Times Square, he showed me a list of nearly a dozen ways to share out the photos he took with his EVO out with the world. Of course, there was the obvious ways, like email, Facebook, or Twitter. Then, there were several others that were less obvious – like the Instagram knock-off PlcPlz.
Why do we use these single-purpose apps? Why not upload to Picasa or Flickr? It’s not like those services can’t be configured to auto-share to Twitter or Facebook.
For that matter, why do we love AngryBirds, when it’s clearly a knock-off of dozens of other games we’ve seen on Kongregate before? Why do we continue to use inferior products simply because they’re newer?
People call me a hater, sometimes, because I poo-poo a lot of the technology other early adopters love. The truth, though, is that I’m an early adopter that has been using these technologies long before most of these other folks have.
I was outputting live audio streaming to the web years before TalkShoe and Cinchcast existed using Windows Mobile 5 and Shoutcast. I was doing mobile video distribution for the web long before YouTube with Google Video, RSS and MySpace (and before that with Shoutcast’s video product).
My point isn’t that there are no tools now that are better than WinMo5 and MySpace – rather, the benefits of the new tools need to be demonstrably better than the old tools. In it’s first few iterations, YouTube wasn’t better than Google Video – in fact, I didn’t switch from Google Video to YouTube until Google killed off the predecessor service. The quality on YouTube wasn’t nearly as good, and it didn’t allow you to export your videos back out of the service at the time (not to mention the API was non-existent, whereas the Google Vid API was at least workable).
I’ll go at this at greater length, and I don’t necessarily think this is a new problem … I do think it’s a good time to point out that our entrepreneurs and early adopters have gotten really lazy. Back during the last bubble, if something like PicPlz or Pummelvision crossed my desk at Mashable, I would have thrown out the email, since it was likely created by some jackass looking to sell the site a week later on Flippa.com.
Instead, we have to pay attention to these useless services because Robert Scoble pimps them, or they’re run by Jakob Lodwick.