YouTube seems to be rolling out a new visualization discovery tool. For now, it only works in full-screen mode, and it’s not available on all videos. Once in full screen, you’ll see an icon in the lower-left corner that features three balls in a triangle shape […]

YouTube seems to be rolling out a new visualization discovery tool. For now, it only works in full-screen mode, and it’s not available on all videos. Once in full screen, you’ll see an icon in the lower-left corner that features three balls in a triangle shape (it looks a little like the flux capacitor from Back to the Future).

Click on this icon and the video turns into a bubble, surrounded by related video bubbles (you can also wait until the end of the video). Here’s one I did by watching a Rudy Giuliani video (to calm all those people who think I’m a Republican basher).

As you stray from your original video into tangential topics, the bubbles’ colors change. Click on a bubble to watch a video and the map keeps track of which ones you’ve watched by connecting them with a line. Additionally, there’s a color key in the upper left-hand corner to take you to a specific topic color.


The bubble effect is similar to the Digg Swarm, only more fun. You have to hand it to YouTube, they may slack when it comes to copyright protection, but they are always ahead of their competitors when it comes to providing visual discovery.

Big thanks to sharp-eyed reader “Joe Smith” for the tip.

  1. Meat Lightning Friday, December 14, 2007

    Seriously? This is got to be the WORST UI concept EVER! I was trying to watch the Iowa Democrat debate… which was broken into clips… I just wanted to watch it in order! At the end of each 1 – 6min clip I was confronted with this bubble crap. I tried a couple of times to figure out which vid was next in the series… bubbles exploded into more bubbles… none of which were labeled “Part 2″ or anything… and finally gave up in frustration. I get the feeling this thing is all about random discovery.. IOW, “wow – look at what I just found.” But why work on that when I can’t even get a playlist to play in full-screen mode without having to manually start each clip? IOW, get the basics right, THEN get fancy. And seriously, the visual complexity of this thing CAN’T work in the 10ft viewing experience… If you want more people to watch TV on the internet, you need to accommodate the TV viewing use-case: chilling on the couch with a beer! If I have to read 8pt text, or try and focus on some 50X50px thumbnail to decipher program content, I’m just gonna change the channel. Netflix gets it.. their viewer has a big ol’ “Next” button on it…

  2. I really like the Break Digg Heat Map which displays the top videos in a map that corresponds size to number of views and color to the rate at which its views are increasing.

    Digg seems to be way ahead of YouTube on this front. While this bubble thing is seems novel I really wish YouTube would make some serious upgrades. Beyond the Partners program, what has YouTube really done since its $1.65B invite to dance with Google?

  3. Chris Albrecht Friday, December 14, 2007

    Hey Meat Lightning (never thought I’d type those words),

    I agree there are some issues, especially when it comes to context and content of the surrounding videos. But I cut YouTube some slack since this is something they’re quietly rolling out.

  4. Meat Lightning Friday, December 14, 2007

    Hi Chris. Didn’t mean to come off so agro… I was just honestly amazed by this bubble thing. Literally shaking my fist at the screen last night. Ha! Anyway, cool blog – keep it up!

  5. That’s pretty cool. Once they can fix some of the problems Meat Lightning is talking about, this will become one of the greatest ways to waste hours at a time.

  6. While this looks like a cool idea, and I encourage YouTube to create new visualization and video discovery tools, this thing is driving me crazy. Repeatedly, when trying to watch videos in full screen mode I had the video suddenly stop in the middle and click over to the bubbles. Ugh! I felt like I was battling a video Alka-Seltzer.

  7. [...] en pruebas, recuerda al utilizado por Digg.com para saltar de artículo en artículo. Quizás esta versión que propone YouTube es más divertida porque incorpora nuevas ideas. Entre ellas los colores de las burbujas, cada [...]

  8. re: meat head’s comment. This UI is the wave of the future and you will be left behind. You are the kind of person who when they saw Windows 3.1 said “DOS is sooo much better”. Let’s see you do better if you don’t like it.

  9. I HATE the bubbles. When I mouseover a bubble to try and read the title, a swarm of 20 more bubbles appear and not only relocate the previous videos, but clutter up the screen with more junk. When I try to find out what the title of another bubble is, it only gets worse. I can’t watch videos based on a single screenshot.

    And if you can even access the bubbles through the gray bar at the bottom–glitchy.

  10. I authored the Wow D Groove video using winamp, and capturing with…hehe, I won’t give up all my secrets. Yes I used their software and easy to navigate visualization editor, but, no I didn’t steal anything from anybody.

    I am tired of the MTV short attention span video technique and just wanted something colorful to watch while relaxing to the music.




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