Pierre Omidyar’s New Ginx Looks Like a Dud

Remember that link I shared on Twitter yesterday? What if I told you I had a new tool that would help you find it again…and all it would cost was 1 year of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s time? That would be insane, would it not?

That’s exactly what we saw, though, when we got a sneak peak today at Omidyar’s new product Ginx. We wrote about Ginx when PE Hub first caught wind of its funding last month. We hoped it would incorporate all kinds of data-intensive recommendation mystery awesomeness. It might later, but so far it’s quite simple and we describe below how you can reproduce most of its functionality without changing your essential workflow and using a new tool.

The company insisted to us today that it is not a Twitter client, but it’s pretty apparent that its first product is just that. It’s a web based interface for Twitter that does a couple of things that are pretty cool, but it doesn’t take a whole new company to get these things.

  • Ginx prioritizes link sharing through Twitter by extending shortened URLs to their full length, placing a thumbnail from the destination page in your flow of tweets and opening links through a frame that displays the original message and a box to reply above the article being linked to.

  • In addition to a tab for replies, Ginx also offers tabs for messages with links in them and messages with links you’ve clicked on already – so you can go back and find them.

  • When viewing a user’s profile page, you have the option to view a stream of their friends’ messages.

  • Click on a #hashtag and you can see a page with just messages containing that tag.

Neat, huh? If this paradigm can be extended out into all kinds of social media sharing, which Ginx’s parent company Peer News certainly intends to do though it won’t offer any details yet, then that doesn’t sound so bad. It will really depend on how good the interface is, because we’re not seeing anything wildly innovative here in terms of functionality.

Ginx is in private beta so you can’t test it out yet, but if this is the kind of Twitter experience you’re looking for, here’s what you can do.

First, take 5 minutes to install Greasemonkey – it’ll change the way you experience the web.

Then, install this Greasemonkey script and you’ll see nested conversations on all Twitter pages.

Next, add this Greasemonkey script and you’ll see public replies to any user in the right hand sidebar of their profile page. That’s more meaningful than just the messages of everyone they follow – those are the people who they have conversation with.

Now install this script and you’ll get shortened URLs extended automatically. Install this one and you’ll be able to see relative popularity of the various links via some shortened services.

That’s going to take you ten minutes to do. Thanks to the people who put in the time and had the creativity to write those Greasemonkey scripts.

The other features of Ginx just don’t seem so revolutionary. There are bookmarking and search services that make it easy enough to recall links. There’s a lot of innovation possible in the microblogging and sharing space – but for early adopters at least, there’s not much to get excited about yet in Ginx. Maybe they’ll come up with something, but our hopes are no longer raised.

Update: We hate to post about Twitter twice in one night, but check out this preview of the new Tweetdeck – a 3rd party Twitter innovator showing how it’s done.

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