ThisMoment captures personal scenes with a social sheen

New website rolls pictures, stories, even YouTube clips into customized slideshows.

By , Staff Writer for The Christian Science Monitor

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    ThisMoment lets users build and view personalized multimedia projects. Click below for a larger view of the image.
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Vince Broady wanted to remember a special night out with his two pre-teen sons – the night that they first went to a movie together as just “the guys.” It was a special showing of the classic action movie “Mad Max,” one of Mr. Broady’s favorite flicks.

Afterward, Mr. Broady went to the social media website thisMoment.com to record the night. He quickly created a “moment,” a slick slideshow using photos of the restaurant they’d eaten at and the movie theater that they’d attend that he’d found online. Then he added a clip of his favorite scene from the movie (which he grabbed from YouTube). He topped off his presentation with a snapshot he’d take of his boys posing in front of the car driven by “Mad Max” in the movie.

Broady, who’s the founder and CEO of the free site thisMoment, which officially launched today, says he thinks people are ready to use social media to record real meaningful “moments,” not just share “this is what I’m doing right now” trivia.

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“ThisMoment is designed to let people save and share the moments of their lives by giving them a really simple but extremely powerful tool that enables them to bring together all different kinds of media around these moments,” says Broady, an entrepreneur who previously developed and ran entertainment websites for CNET and Yahoo.

When viewing a thisMoment slideshow, readers scroll down through the text, however brief or long, and scroll across the screen for related images and videos. Makers of thisMoment “moments” can connect directly with their other social media sites like Facebook, Flickr, or YouTube to easily pull all their online material together.”

Each “moment” can be shared in whatever way the user wants: kept private, shared with the other people that were involved in the “moment,” with Facebook friends, with other customized groups of family or friends, or left public to be seen by anyone. Broady has been surprised to see that during six months of beta testing most people who created “moments” wanted to share them openly.

To prime the pump for text, thisMoment asks users to complete the line “This moment made me feel....” For example, one group Broady found had pulled together their reactions to the inauguration of President Obama, sharing their emotions at the time and photos from the inaugural site in Washington, as well as the reactions and photos of people in Atlanta and northern California.

Any “moment” that a user has access to view on someone else’s thisMoment site can also be copied (known as “seizing the moment”) onto their own thisMoment page. During beta testing,  “moments” were copied to another site an average of three times. “Moments” can also be embedded in a user’s blog, where they can be viewed in their entirety without having to leave the blog page. New “moments” can also be posted automatically to social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed.

Other free social media sites have become immensely popular, with millions of users. But it’s still unclear how they will eventually make a profit. ThisMoment will stay free to its users, Broady says, but he sees others sources of income.

One involves licensing the technology behind thisMoment to others. ThisMoment has announce a deal with People magazine, which will use it to help celebrate People’s 35th anniversary. The New York Times will use thisMoment to package its “36 Hours in...” travel features online, making use of the format’s text, photo, and video integration. Road & Track is taking a similar approach to presenting multimedia features on exotic cars.

Eventually, Broady speculates, companies might charge a micro-fee, perhaps a dollar, for users to add an especially attractive prepackaged “moment” or “Momento” to their thisMoment page. Imagine, he says, if the Los Angeles Lakers put together a package on winning the NBA title, selling it as a “souvenir” that fans could put on their thisMoment site.

Advertising eventually will provide income too, Broady says, but only if it can be very targeted and relevant. “If I’m looking at this beautiful day on the beach, I don’t want to look at a mortgage ad.... I want an ad that will help me get there.”

Searches on Google and Microsoft’s new Bing search engines already are uncovering thisMoment “moment” pages, sometimes putting them near the top (and ahead of Facebook) in some searches, Broady says.

“We try to make it really, really simple” to create “moments,” he says. But the result is an elegant platform “for saving and sharing what’s going on in your life.”

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