Katherine Boehret

Creating ‘Moments’ of Your Life

It’s hard to maintain a monogamous relationship with one photo-sharing Web site. You will sign up with a service and use it as your primary online repository for a while. You may even familiarize friends and family with that service so they expect to see your name associated with it in emails. But before long, other sites with flashier features will entice you to start spending time with them while you continue to maintain your accounts on the old site so you don’t lose your digital memories. Can’t they all just get along in one place?

This week, I tested thisMoment.com—a content-sharing Web site that doesn’t mind if you use multiple sharing sites. It acknowledges your accounts on other sites and the fact that you have probably loaded a bunch of photos or videos onto those sites. It even recognizes that you likely still want to remain connected to those services. In fact, thisMoment is made better by your relationships with these other sites. And the service also makes it easy to incorporate into your account material created by others—even strangers.

Anyone can use thisMoment.com the old-fashioned way, by uploading personal content and building “moments” (collections of related content) to share with friends. But thanks to thisMoment’s ties to other sharing sites, users may opt to add others’ publicly shared materials like videos, photos and articles to a moment, making it richer and more interesting. This content can come from sources like Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, Facebook—even Life Magazine photos and MTV videos can be interspersed throughout a moment. The Moment Maker tool quickly scans sites for relevant content to add to the moment.

This week, the service introduced an iPhone app for making moments on the go and a Facebook app for creating moments within Facebook. I tried both, in addition to using the thisMoment.com site, and found that resulting moments looked like they took a lot more time and effort to make than they actually did.

ThisMoment’s secret sauce is in its elegant displays. It takes all sorts of content—text, photos, videos—from various sources and meshes it into a handsome slideshow that flows from one visual to the next. Black backgrounds dramatically frame photos and videos, and captions stand out in brightly colored text. Maps from Google (GOOG) pinpoint exactly where the moment took place and a list names other people who were in the moment.

And when you’re all done creating your moment, thisMoment doesn’t mind sharing your final project with others using still more social-networking tools like Twitter, Facebook and some 45 Web publishing sites—if your privacy settings are set for sharing.

For some people, the idea of integrating other online content into their personal moments could be a turn-off. I wasn’t initially sure I would want someone else’s content mixed in with photos and videos I took, or vice versa. And I still wish thisMoment provided a clearer way of differentiating between someone’s personal content and that which was pulled from the Web. (Currently, small print below each item tells where it came from.)

But there’s so much content online that it makes sense to tap these resources. And users can opt to make moments without external content.

ThisMoment artistically assembles digital moments using content from the Web or personal photos and videos.

Rather than just slapping photos on to a Web site where people can see them, thisMoment asks its users to check off descriptive words—or enter their own—to explain how the moment made them feel. Though I originally scoffed at these add-your-own emotions, I later grew to like them when I looked back at my moments and those created by other people. They give these online creations a personal touch that isn’t conveyed in other photo-sharing software programs or Web sites.

Another thisMoment differentiator is its sense of time. You can create moments for things that happen in the past, present or future, like an upcoming wedding or birth, and a timeline at the top of the Web site shows where these moments fit in, according to their dates. If you share a moment with someone who is labeled as being in that moment, she can “seize” the moment, adding it to her own timeline. ThisMoment also encourages you to rate your moments on a scale of small to big according to how much they matter to you, though I often forgot to do this, and to label your moments so they can be organized into different categories.

I soon got the hang of how to use thisMoment to supplement my moments when I didn’t have enough content to create something worth sharing. When I attended a folk rock concert at the Embassy of the Czech Republic here in Washington, D.C., I only captured a few so-so photographs and wouldn’t have otherwise shared any visual memories from the evening with friends. But I used the Moment Maker to troll the Web for content related to Czechomor, the band I saw, and found live concert videos, as well as professional photographs, an online biography of the band and a link to where the group’s album was sold on Amazon.com (AMZN). I used this content and one of my own photos, and made a simple moment in a few minutes. (Check out my moment.)

Likewise, friends of mine recently hosted a murder-mystery dinner, but we were so busy staying in character that we took only one photo of the entire evening. I used that photo of me and my costumed friends as the inspiration for creating a moment filled with photos and videos of murder-mystery dinners from all over. This content came from sites like Photobucket, Picasa, Flickr and YouTube, and I laughed at the number of people who wore stick-on moustaches in these photos.

ThisMoment allows anyone with whom you share a moment to see that moment without signing up for the service. If that person is included in the moment, meaning the creator labeled him or her as a person who participated in the moment, then that person can add his or her own content to the moment—as long as that person signs up as a member of the site.

A variety of privacy options let you restrict who can see your moments—just you, friends, family, people in the moment or everyone. If a moment is set so everyone can see it, they can also use your content in their moments.

You may not always want to use thisMoment to incorporate content from other services and Web sites. But even without outside influences, this service’s stunning visual displays will give your moments a polished look that makes you proud to share.

Edited by Walter S. Mossberg

Write to Katherine Boehret at mossbergsolution@wsj.com

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