We were wary about Fox's on-TV Twitter experiment, and then surprised by quite how badly it failed...but obviously the folks at Cliqset and Boxee disagreed: They're bringing yet more sophisticated social net chatting to TV shows.
Cliqset's been around for a little while, with a slightly unusual approach to social networking—it's part aggregator service, part content-sharing, and it sits at the center of all the different social networks you may be a member of, gathering all your friend's status updates/chats into one place. The advantage is immediately obvious—one can natter away happily to many friends on different networks without having to dash between systems.
But the Boxee tie-up is brand new, a demonstration of how Cliqset's APIs let programmers add "social features in traditional places where you wouldn't expect to see them." Such as during a broadcast of your favorite TV show, letting you chat about the ongoing drama, as the demo screenshot tries to illustrate. Boxee's essentially updated its desktop client with some Adobe Air goodness that's compatible with Cliqset and thus, once you've signed up for Boxee you can chat to your pals via your TV. Boxee's obviously trying to pin down the new service to be entertainment-specific, as everyone chatting has to be watching the same show.
Here's the question, though, isn't this just a step too far? While many of the complaints about Fox's hilariously bad on-screen Twitter experiment were aimed at its hugely clumsy graphic design, many others were about how intrusive and distracting the whole event was. Admittedly it was a built-in feature to the broadcast, whereas Cliqset's Boxee package is an opt-in system, but surely the same principle applies? Won't lots of live chats distract you from the action of the show you're watching? Rather like the irritating late arrival to the couch who keeps asking you "why is he doing that? Oh ... what's happening?" To me, on-screen during-program chats are like enabling cellphone calls on an aircraft—just one step too far for digital comms.