Seesmic's Web-Based App Offers Hope For Deskbound Twitter Junkies

SeesmicThere was an interesting article on the Digg blog last week where Mark Trammell, who is the ‘User Experience Architect’ at the popular social bookmarking site, writes about the problem of Internet Explorer 6 – namely that despite being eight years old, and superseded by two entirely new versions, it accounts for 10 per cent of all Digg users. Anyone with experience in web design and blogging templates will know what a colossal pain in the rear IE6 compatibility can be.

To reduce this strain on the Digg programming team, Trammell had considered blocking IE6 users entirely, particularly as they only make up about 1 per cent of actual interactivity on the site (diggs, comments etc). This seemed drastic, however, and lead Trammell and his team to ponder exactly why these visitors continue to use IE6.

So he asked them. The results are likely pretty obvious to anybody who has worked in any kind of government business (or other firms/institutions that are slow to adopt new technologies) – while only 56 per cent of those polled claimed to use IE6 at home, a whopping 90 per cent said they used it at work. When pressed as to why, only 7 per cent said it was because they preferred IE6 over other browser options – meantime, 37 per cent said they couldn’t upgrade on their work PC as they didn’t have administrator privileges, while 32 per cent couldn’t upgrade because they’d been told not to.

Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Seesmic Desktop – I use it almost exclusively, with the exception of Dabr when I’m on the road. Seesmic does loads of things really, really well, and I was pretty excited when they announced their new web-based version of the app on Friday.

Seesmic Web

Check it out here – you log on using your Twitter details via OAuth. I’ve had a good play around with it. I like it. It’s perfect for work use. Sure, this isn’t much beyond an alpha-level release right now, and the functionality is fairly minimal (certainly compared to the downloadable Seesmic client) but this is typical of the way Seesmic and especially founder Loïc Le Meur operates – he’ll push a product onto the market fairly early on and then shape it to the desires of the user base. And as a concept it works really, really well.

I’m excited about what this means for the typical officer user who is often extremely restricted in the things they are allowed to do with their work computer. While few companies are happy for their employees to be goofing around on Twitter on their dime, everybody has a lunch break. And even if twittering is approved by your boss, it’s unlikely he’s going to let you download and install Seesmic Desktop or TweetDeck, and itself is such a limiting experience.

This web-based version of Seesmic, wet behind the ears as it is, is already a step up from (which speaks volumes), and as Loïc et al roll out cool features like groups, multiple accounts and synchronisation in the weeks to come, the differences are going to become increasingly apparent. Better still: it doesn’t have the word ‘Twitter’ in the title, so you can easily hide it in one of your many browser tabs.

Moreover, with an iPhone version of Seesmic also on the horizon, and the inevitable web-based response from TweetDeck, things are beginning to look very interesting indeed. Who knows – maybe even Twitter themselves will think about doing something crazy to the home page like, you know, adding a re-tweet button?

All that said, here’s the real question: does the Seesmic browser app work on IE6? Unfortunately I’m not in a position to answer this, as I haven’t been forced to use IE6 at work for years. I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to pick whatever browser he want. Me? I choose Chrome.

You, however, might not be so fortunate, so if you’re cursed with IE6 then please give Seesmic’s web-based app a whirl, and let me know how it goes. If it works, then yeah, okay, it’s still IE6 – but at least your world just got a little bit brighter.