Last night at the “iPad App Coffee Chat” I facilitated in Edmond, Oklahoma, at The Div, we discussed a variety of iPad applications for viewing and watching videos as well as creating and sharing them. ShowYou and Shufflr were the first two I demonstrated, since they allow users to connect their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Once connected, it’s possible to view videos shared by people you follow in a Flipboard-like, “wall of videos” interface. The interface of ShowYou for iPad reminds me of the Cooliris photo exploration browser plugin. Being able to view thumbnails of videos shared by people you follow on social networks is very powerful. Individually, as we share links to videos and other online resources we act as curators and filters for quality content. It’s quite helpful to have apps like ShowYou which “filter out all the other stuff” and just show video thumbnails instead of presenting 140 character descriptions with links. If you have an iPad, I encourage you to check out ShowYou. It’s a free app.

Videos in ShowMe for iPad shared by Twitter Users I follow

In addition to showing how these apps work for finding and viewing videos, I also demonstrated how users can share (or re-share) videos in the apps. In the case of ShowMe, clicking on the share button brings up a dialog window where desired text can be typed before the video link is shared on your Twitter account or Facebook wall. In the case of Shufflr, however, there is NOT an opportunity to enter associated text. Last night I found a new video I hadn’t seen about Chromebooks and iPads, and clicked the share button to demonstrate how it worked. Much to my dismay, that link IMMEDIATELY went out on my Twitter account with ‘canned’ text.

Beware of immediate sharing on Shuffler.tv

Hopefully the creators of Shufflr will change this process and permit users to enter / type their own associated comment before sharing a video. In this case, I hadn’t actually watched the entire video before unintentionally tweeting its link. When I did watch it, I was surprised by some of the images included. The video is a series of audio interviews with high school students about Chromebooks and iPads, but there are some unrelated PhotoBooth filtered images of a woman in a bikini included for some reason. (I think the creator used the ‘thermal’ filter.) In addition to those images, I also question the validity and usefulness of the opinions expressed in the video because the students interviewed didn’t seem to be iPad users. The best people to ask a question like, “Do you prefer a Chromebook or an iPad” are people who are very familiar with the features, capabilities, and operation of both devices. Asking someone just familiar with one of the two items is like asking someone who has never gone fishing, “Do you like hunting or fishing better?” It’s not a good question to ask to an ignorant audience, especially if you are going to portray your “results” as insightful about comparing two different things. This is similar to the point I made in my short essay, “A perspective on operating systems,” which I last edited in 2006.

In addition to recommending the ShowYou iPad app to you, I want to offer caution about using apps like Shufflr which have “immediate sharing” buttons to social networks. Even though some Twitter users, like Shankar Vedantam (@HiddenBrain) clearly state on their profiles “retweets are not endorsements,” it’s natural and common for other people to view / perceive retweets as recommendations.

Retweets are not endorsements

For evidence of this, just look at the way iPad apps ShowYou and Shufflr treat video sharing. The apps specifically show WHO has shared a particular video on Facebook or Twitter, as a means of establishing a link to credibility and/or trust for the quality and value of a video. The retweet IS a recommendation.

Sharing via re-tweeting on Twitter and link sharing on Facebook as well as Google Plus can be extremely powerful and beneficial. As this story from yesterday’s workshop hopefully shows, however, it’s important to be aware of how we may be judged not only by the company we keep on social networks (who we follow) but also by the voices we amplify (the content we retweet and share.)

Since I’m not entirely in accord with the image choices in the video I accidentally retweeted last night from Shufflr, I deleted the tweet from my public Twitter stream. It’s still archived on my personal Tweet Nest archive, however.

What are your thoughts about retweeting and sharing links on social networks? Is it reasonable for people to claim “retweets are not endorsements?”

Are there other iPad apps or websites you’re using which offer similar features like ShowYou and Shufflr to view videos shared by people you follow on social networks?

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