Stream Your Life Completely with thisMoment

By Phil Butler
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I tested a private beta today called thisMoment, and it was fascinating.

The service is focused on the idea of “You over Time,” with both personal and collective aspects that allow users to create a digital reflection of their lives. Through photos, video, blogging, other media and social elements, thisMoment effectively creates a user experience unlike any I know of (the closest that comes to mind is Jeremy Keith’s Adactio Elsewhere).

Imagine Twitter, FriendFeed, Flickr, Delicious, Facebook, MySpace and more, all packed inside a beautiful and functional box. This is a very well put together development — but given who is behind it, this is not a huge surprise.

Read on: the first 20 SitePoint readers to follow the link at the end of the post will receive an exclusive invite to try thisMoment.

My Life, The Digital Version

Everything at thisMoment revolves around three basic actions:

  • creating moments in time,
  • sharing these moments,
  • and viewing moments of your own, family members, friends or communities.

Though it doesn’t feel cluttered, the thisMoment interface effectively takes up the whole screen, so bear with me while I describe some of the elements individually.

A profile page of thisMoment -- note the timeline

A profile page of thisMoment -- note the timeline

Creating Moments in Time

As I said, thisMoment is about a user’s (or group of users’) life moments. Imagine a rich graphical and interactive timeline of media that anyone can share or view -– a footprint if you will, on the sandy digital beach. The interface is an elegant step-by-step process with seemingly limitless input and output options. Creating a life moment and sharing it can be either fast and simple or inclusive of multiple elements for a more deep presentation. Users can:

  • name and describe — clicking on the “create a moment” tab launches the “moment maker” menu. The user inputs title and description, decides on single or group event and indicating (via the cute little mascot you will notice) how this moment made the user feel.
  • add friends — people can be added to moments by clicking on their names or via a search field. If they are not within the thisMoment community, the service allows users to search their address books. Failing that, a user might simply create and account for a family member or friend with that person’s email address. (not sure I like this). Adding children and pets, obviously without email, is simply done via these account types.
  • specify when and where — This can be very specific, or not, as it suits you. These details set the life moment on the user’s timeline.
  • capture video, images, links and more — Each moment on the timeline is viewable via the “moment theater”, and can include any or all selected media. Users can either search from within the moment maker interface between a shared community index or via their various online services.

Moment creation interface 1

Moment creation interface 1

Note search for Bond and YouTube result

Note search for Bond and YouTube result

I had to crunch all of this, but note the mosaic and timeline above

I had to crunch all of this, but note the mosaic and timeline above

Once one or more of these moments are created, a user can easily share a lifestream that includes rich media and text — footprints of their past, present and even future. The result, is a sort of “Twitter ala Steven Spielberg” if you will.

Sharing Moments

Sharing moments or one’s entire time/life line is simple. When the user exits the moment maker interface, several settings allow for progressively larger groups of people to share moments. They range from personal, where only the user can see the moment, to public, where everyone including those on Facebook, Twitter and the like can view. Obviously, mailing moments, sharing via other services (via linked notification) and via subscribed friends are the default methods.

Viewing Moments

The Moment Theater is where users can view a brief description of the moment, and any photos or videos that define each moment. The users simply hit play to view moments, or alternatively, they control the playback using the next or previous arrows. By clicking on any name or image throughout the platform, users are taken to this Movie Theater. Through the different modes; different takes, seize the moment, people of the moment, and on to links and stats, viewing is designed to allow for maximum flexibility and perspective.

Half of the Moment Theater in mosaic mode

Half of the Moment Theater in mosaic mode

The Timeline and Other Elements

The timeline is the central component of the UI. It is also one of the most striking aesthetically and symbolically. It allows easy access to a user’s moments, as well as being customizable, with dynamic highlight thumbnails and other functions. The thin bars you see can be configured to represent anything from a family event to a business trip. The importance of timeline elements is designated by the height of vertical the bars, while color keying the bars allows for separating friend events from personal and etc.

A segment of the timeline -- past to present and future.

A segment of the timeline -- past to present and future.

Other elements of thisMoment mirror earlier developments in social networks in that all the functionality is there in the one place. However, thisMoment has made virtually all of the standard features we might come to expect more beautiful, useful and integrated. Though simple to use and navigate, every single component from “My Messages” to “My People” has many facets. thisMoment seems to have covered and added a twist to everything we’ve come to expect, and then “refreshed it all.”

The platform is actually too deep and feature-rich to explain completely in a single blog post. While quite complex both in its design and in the nature of content that is displayed, I actually found thisMoment to be easier to work with than Facebook and many other related services. The integration efforts are extensive too — users can pull in content from Yahoo! Mail, GMail, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket, Wikipedia, Google, Picasa and Amazon (with the last three being searchable and usable from within the moment creator interface).

About the Development

thisMoment is being developed by a handful of ex-Yahoo! employees, including Vince Broady (former Head of Games and Youth) and Scott Bedard (former Head of Product Integration). Given the experience that the team has building high quality entertainment sites for Yahoo!, and platforms for CNET like TV.com and MP3.com, it’s no surprise that thisMoment is so slick and polished — both from a technical and user experience point of view.

thisMoment uses jQuery on the front-end, a custom PHP framework as its back-end programming language, and MySQL for data storage, as well as memcached and memcachedb for caching. While currently in beta, the first 20 SitePoint readers to follow this link will be some of the first to enjoy thisMoment.

Conclusion

This new service incorporates virtually every aspect of what the social Web has coveted. From beautiful aesthetics, to deep preference customization and very rich sharing innovations, thisMoment has emulated and largely bested developments from social aggregation, bookmarking and lifestreaming. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be one of the developments to watch this year. My recent discovery of who the developers are solidifies my belief in this development — Yahoo! has always been long on designers and developers and short on managing.

No wonder this little surprise looks so good — I just wonder who is running Yahoo! these days …

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