June 30, 2010

Brizzly Rolls Out Picnics for Private Real-Time Group Chats

After nearly a month's worth of public trials, on Tuesday, Brizzly finally announced the launch of Picnics - the newest approach to private group chat on the Web, leveraging the company's rich media roots and intelligent conversational UI found in their popular social networking client to give less public conversations a new home - even as other sites are continuing to peel back the layers of what is public and what is not. The result, a fun free-flowing environment to chat with friends, family and colleagues without fear of the content going public, and without the headaches associated with more feature-laden tools, like the much discussed Google Wave.

While Brizzly is well known for their Twitter and Facebook client for the Web and iPhone, the company is branching out from being solely beholden to those two sites. Their Brizzly Guide explains the day's hot topics, and Picnics, which require a dedicated Brizzly account, take place outside of both networks.

The concept of a Picnic is a private (or public, if you choose) chat with any number of people you invite. Updates are posted chronologically, with the oldest at the top, and you can add photos in line. Quoted tweets are displayed with a unique design, and hours can be wasted playing with the customizable Webcam feature, and its related effects.

A Chat From Earlier This Month With My Dad

A Sidebar (Like a DM) With Foursquare's @dens on the Hire of @siobhanquinn.

Before you say "Hey! Web chat is nothing new!"... yes, that's somewhat right, but Picnics are surprisingly useful. You can customize the people invited to participate, you can get e-mail notifications upon new entries, and can even start 1-1 sidebars with people involved in each Picnic, much like direct messages without the overhead. Brizzly's leading Web app capability to display photos in line is also a fun addition that brings us ages beyond the world of shared text windows.

Brizzly's introduction comes at a time when Facebook and Google and others have been called on the carpet for violating privacy. They know this and said that the launch of Picnics puts "you in control of who sees what you say and where," adding "Have a picnic with your friends to post the funny YouTube videos you used to put on your wall." Meanwhile, Twitter, while it has improved, continues to strain under the pressure of one to many conversations, and lacks the potential for rich discussion in an intimate way that Picnics bring. So Picnics gets privacy right and it gets conversations right in a fun way.

I've been using Picnics to talk with friends and family for weeks, and the debut is welcome. Check them out at http://www.brizzly.com.