ThisMoment: Family album 2.0?

Do we need yet another site for collecting memories?

Former CNET exec Vince Broady launched on Tuesday ThisMoment, a new social publishing service designed to collect and save personal and family memories, or "moments." I found it an attractive and enjoyable service to use. But its feature set is ambitious, and there's a big question of whether it can succeed in a market already flooded with social publishing services.

ThisMoment creates little self-contained items made up of text, media files, people, places, and links. I've seen other tools that do similar things, but ThisMoment is slicker than most sites, both in the creation and the viewing.

To make a moment, you just type in a little emotional impression and how it made you feel (e.g., "happy"), then you add your media. You can upload images from your computer or pull them over from sharing sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Picasa Web. You can add places, people, and Web links too. Adding content to a moment is easy and intuitive, and ThisMoment doesn't make an artificial distinction between photos and video.

ThisMoment content items get a nice media viewer at the top, and loads of details below. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

You can also invite people into a moment so they can work on it with you. This could be good for vacation moments, family events, and so on. Moments can be created for future events, too. You could create a moment for an upcoming trip and invite people to contribute locations and links for things to do. There's an iPhone app for "momenting" from the field. However, you can't snap a picture from a laptop's Web cam, which is a shame.

Each moment gets its own privacy level. You can share with everyone, just your family or friends, only the other people mentioned in the moment, or nobody. I like this granular sharing control--it's reminiscent of Vox, which also does this well.

ThisMoment content looks great. Broady told me, "I want life to come through," and his design achieves that. Items are engaging and fun to read. The moments get very attractive headers where all the media goes, and then a page underneath with map links, people, related stories, and comments. Broady says the page design is very search engine-friendly, and that his moments are already indexed well on Google and Bing. Moments can also be embedded in Web pages and blogs. (See an example after the jump.)

So we've established that moments are easy to create, and fun to read. Big deal. The world is awash in social media sites. For ThisMoment to succeed, it needs to work within the existing online social framework. And it needs to make a buck.

As far as integrating into existing services, ThisMoment has all the features checked off. When you sign up for the service (or afterward), you can link in your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and other accounts. Media accounts like Flickr can be used as image sources; social accounts like Facebook can be broadcasted to (there's also a Facebook app for ThisMoment). I did find setup a bit overwhelming, though. I wasn't sure what security and privacy holes I was opening up when I linked everything together.

The financial question is more interesting for this service. Even successful social sites aren't guaranteed money-makers. Broady says he'll be selling ThisMoment as a white-label service to content companies that want to give their users a better social experience. And to his credit, he's got deals with a few major players, like People Magazine.

Companies can also make their own branded moment templates, or "Momentos," that other users can adopt for their own timelines. Broady thinks users might buy Momentos in micro-transactions. I told him I was skeptical, and Broady reminded me that ThisMoment content does extremely well on search engines. I'm still skeptical.

If people start to use ThisMoment, I think they'll like it. What I'm not sure about is if they'll come back in numbers big enough to make the service a going concern. As good as ThisMoment is, its focus puts it a little off the beaten path of the usual social traffic.

See also Lilgrams.

 

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