Skimmer: A Better Stuff Reader
Tuesday, March 24, 2009; 7:14 AM
It's hard to find a good stuff reader. Twhirl and Tweetdeck are good for Twitter and every other social networking whatever service has its own Air app, but there's no one place you can put all your stuff in a readable and usable way. Enter Skimmer, a stuff reader by Fallon, an ad agency in Minneapolis. Presumably named after the great comedian and talk-show host Johnny Carson, Fallon has decided to brighten up its front walk with a unique Air application that brings Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Blogger, and Facebook to one place.
Why is an ad agency creating a Twitter app? Had you ever heard of Fallon before this? Didn't think so. Moving on. [Folks have pointed out they did the BMW films and a few other campaigns. Feel free to ask some people on the street who they are, though, and I believe you'll be quite surprised.]
The folks at Fallon who showed me the service described it as a feed reader for designers. Fallon's precious art department wanted to use the services we peons use every day but the application design was too muddled and messy. Their solution? Roll their own system using the latest in user interface design techniques taken from the catwalks of Paris.
The application, available on Fallon's website, is still pretty wonky. It crashed a few times for me on OS X and there are still some issues in posting Tweets. The real differentiator, however, is the way Skimmer shows Flickr photos, videos, and avatars. The photos and videos appear in-line whenever your Flickr freunden post new pics or your YouTube favorites churn out another video. The system also allows you to add large, hi-resolution avatars to your account so other Skimmer users can see the true you and not some 50×50 pixel representation.
There are three screen modes - full, widget, and regular. The fullscreen mode is for crazy people who want their readers to take up the entire screen, the mid-sized is just about right, and the widget turns the reader into something more like Twhirl.
If I were a high school chemistry teacher I'd write "Good ideas but needs work" on the top of Skimmer and hand it back with a B-. The app needs some technical polish - in terms of usability it's already pretty slick - but if you're looking for something to bring a few of your services into one fairly attractive app then give Skimmer a try. It can only get better.