I first heard about Seesmic from a former TwitterDeck user, who said that this desktop app (still in beta) could be the Next Big Thing for people who need to track a lot of different Twitter threads.
What does Seesmic do?
Seesmic is indeed a bit like TwitterDeck on steroids. Like TwitterDeck, it organizes your Twitter and Facebook feeds into columns. You can create new columns by starting a search or by following a single user or group of users.
Or, if you want, you can just follow your Facebook and Twitter feeds in a single column (and it can handle more than one Twitter account).
In fact, rather than automatically putting your Facebook and Twitter feeds in two separate columns, it starts with a Home column in which both are combined.
If that bothers you (it bothered me because it results in duplicate messages from people who send to both feeds) you can either choose to look at only one of the two feeds (by clicking on a menu to the left of the columns) or break one of them off into a separate column.
You can easily send a status message to Twitter, Facebook or both, and Seesmic lets you add an image to your tweets.
What's cool about Seesmic?
Seesmic is incredibly flexible; you can make it do almost anything you want it to - and you can do it on a moment's notice. Say you've searched on a term and you're now curious about one of the tweeters - just click on the name and you immediately have a new column with all of that person's recent tweets.
If you're tired of that search, an icon at the top of the column will close it up or delete it.
Seesmic works on a system of "fixed" and "detached" columns. You can have a single fixed column that shows all your Twitter and Facebook accounts; you can then generate a series of detached columns that follow specific accounts (for example, just your Facebook account), specific users or specific searches.
You can have nothing but detached columns - or you can have a single fixed column.
If a column shows a specific Twitter account, a series of icons on the bottom let you filter it further into replies, direct messages (private tweets directed to you), etc.
In any column, you can easily reply or retweet a message by simply clicking on one of the icons that are "hidden" within the user's picture (very much like TweetDeck).
Seesmic is one of the most Facebook-friendly Twitter clients I've come across. Each of your friends' status updates from your Facebook account has an icon that, when clicked, shows you the details of the message and lets you comment on it right from Seesmic.
And if you're not near your own computer, you can access Seesmic's Web-based interface, which is a simplified version of its desktop application. An iPhone version is in the works.
What needs to be fixed?
Although not nearly as complicated as PeopleBrowsr (and much nicer to look at), Seesmic is one of those applications that you have to spend some time with before you've achieved a reasonable comfort level.
The concept of fixed and detached columns takes a while to get used to, and one gets the feeling that there are all sorts of things you could do with it - if you understood how. Like many other third-party Twitter applications, Seesmic offers video tutorials, user guides, and solutions to known issues and answers to common questions for those willing to put in the time.
Seesmic is a fabulous way to handle Twitter if you need to watch different feeds at different times, and if you like tweaking your applications to do exactly what you want them to. It's especially handy for Facebook users who don't want to bother to actually visit Facebook.