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Videophlow tries to enliven YouTube

Photophlow was for sharing and chatting about Flickr photos. Now there's Videophlow, which presents a similarly elaborate interface for YouTube videos.

SAN FRANCISCO--The company behind Photophlow, a site that presents a lively chat room interface around the Flickr photo-sharing site, plans to demonstrate on Thursday a similarly elaborate presentation of Google's YouTube video service.

Start-up Oortle's service, called Videophlow, lets people post videos into a chat room and lets those in the room control the video playback. And as with Photophlow, people can use Videophlow to take advantage of YouTube features such as searching, adding comments, or marking videos as favorites.

Oortle, the company behind Photophlow, is working on a video equivalent called Videophlow. Oortle

"You'll even be able to throw a tomato at the screen for everyone to see," Neil Berkman, founder of Oortle, said in an interview at the Web 2.0 Expo here, where he is scheduled to demonstrate the technology.

While Videophlow is still undergoing closed testing, Photophlow has been groaning under the weight of its membership, with slow response times and sometimes no access at all.

"Scaling and bug fixing are still our biggest priorities," Berkman said. "Supporting real-time interaction in the way we do means we can't use off-the-shelf software. It's a hard thing to get right, but I'm sure we will."

Streaming videos are tougher than photos for servers to handle, but happily for Oortle, that burden falls on YouTube operator Google. It's no more difficult to build its framework around video than around photo, Berkman said.

Another difference between the earlier site is that Videophlow will have "less emphasis on big public rooms. The main use we'd like to support is small groups of friends watching together," he said.

As with Photophlow, Videophlow is expected to be offered through a private beta test version.