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Twitter and Comcast's "See It" A Sly Step Towards the "Internet of Things"

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By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

Social network Twitter has taken a cultural capital lead in conversation about live TV. Now the service, ahead of its IPO, is getting together with cable provider Comcast and that company's subsidiary NBCUniversal to launch a new program called "See It."

Here's what it boils down to: soon Comcast Xfinity subscribers who see tweets from NBCU shows will be able to jump right to the program or set up their DVRs to record directly from Twitter. No need to dig out the remote.

On first glance this seems like a needless do-dad, but dig in a little closer and it is actually kind of genius.

It doesn't hurt that Comcast is promising that subscribers will be able to view directly on their mobile devices, which is where Twitter is concentrating their efforts these days.

The big problem for traditional media companies in a social media world is driving the audience back to their content. The "See It" initiative promises to lower the barrier, down to just a click or two on the device everyone always seems to have just a arm's length away.

While "See It" is launching with Comcast/NBCU, Twitter is clear in their own blog post about the service that they are looking to hook up with other content providers. Comcast engineers built the thing, so we'll see how smoothly that goes.

All of this is based off of the "Twitter Card" format that the company starting rolling out last year. These "expanded tweets" put more multimedia content into the feeds of Twitter users: photos, videos, and now controls for other devices.

That's the genius here: this doesn't just signal a new way to interact with TV from Twitter, it is the first step towards Twitter being an interface for the "Internet of Things." If Twitter users get used to using the service to operate their DVRs, how long until it feels natural to command your game console to buy a game direct from Twitter? Order the daily special at your favorite cafe with a click?

My only real hope here is that Twitter sees the bigger potential here beyond TV and big studios. That the company opens the platform up to independent creators who have gained so much from being able to connect directly with audiences.

Public media's TurnstyleNews.com, covers tech and digital culture from the West Coast.

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