It's weird that Twitter, such a simple service, is so difficult to explain. The people behind desktop Twitter client Seesmic have made it as simple and colourful as possible with Seesmic Look. Think of it as the Fisher Price take on Twitter, all big buttons and flashing lights. But despite its apparent simplicity, Look offers an interesting route for monetising Twitter.
Look is designed to put a friendly face on Twitter for those who are new to the microblogging and social messaging service. It certainly makes for a simple first use, providing batches of pre-selected feeds for your perusal. You can take a look at the latest trends or dive into groups of big names organised by categories.
As long-standing Twitter snobs we're not keen on emphasising celebrity tweeters, but if that's what some users have turned up for, we'll happily let them get on with it. Good luck to them -- five minutes of P Diddy's ridiculous txtspk, Kim Kardashian's innane wittering and every other slebrity's constant hogwash about being "humble" and "blessed" and we wanted to swear off Twitter completely.
If annoying celebrities don't put you off, you can go on to search for subjects or people, and add them to your favourites. Look is well-named, allowing users to look at what's going on without having to get involved. Much has been made of the fact that you don't even need a Twitter account to use Look, and indeed logging in to your account changes pretty much nothing about the experience.
It's a very slick experience for newbies and old hands: tweets appear as floating bubbles that dynamically resize, lists scroll smoothly, and the playback mode makes pretty wallpaper. Tweets appear either in a linear feed mode or, in playback mode, randomly fade in and out around the screen. It's not the most efficient way of consuming Twitter, but it does reflect the non-linear 'world' you create by choosing who to follow.
One of the most interesting parts of Look is the channels section. This also features pre-selected feeds, but those of brands rather than subject areas. Red Bull, the Huffington Post and Kodak are among the advertisers that have pulled together feeds from tweeters who are tied into the brand. Kodak has a selection of photographers, Red Bull has a bunch of extreme sports types, and HuffPo offers all its editors' feeds on one branded portal.
It's a direction that Twitter itself may be heading in, as rumours abound that the service will finally make some money by charging brands for premium accounts. It's a more subtle and more consumer-friendly approach than plastering the site with ads.
Seesmic Look only works with Windows as of today, and you can download it from Seesmic's Web site. Optimised for Windows 7, the app supports touch. The playback mode would make great wallpaper on a Microsoft Surface, and the large, finger-friendly tweet bubbles could be happily scrolled on a tablet. So in this case you can ignore your mum's advice, and Look but do touch.