There ought to be a more fun, and dependable, way to find videos on the Web or on your phone.

Search is often the wrong tool for video; you can’t search for “keyboard cat” if you don’t yet know about it.

We love our friends on Facebook and the people we follow on Twitter; but they’re sharing so many different things, it’s noisy, and the people we follow or friend aren’t always the best source for videos relevant to our tastes and particular interests.

When we started Vodpod, we thought that by helping people collect and curate video from the web we could invent new ways for people to find and watch video. As we were prepared to launch, we wrote:

We think the best solution is to find videos through people like you — your friends or people with similar tastes, interests, and judgment. [W]hen you build [a video collection]… you make it easier for others with similar interests or tastes to find video they might like. By filtering the good from the bad, applying your judgment, deciding what’s important and what isn’t, and then organizing the results in a way that makes the collection easy and fun to use.

For the first two to three years, we’ve had to focus our efforts on providing the best way to collect video. With over 5.5M videos collected from over 17,500 video sites, our members have built an incredible array of video collections. We’re not declaring “Mission Accomplished” or anything, but that part of our service is rocking.

So we’ve turned our attention increasingly to building a better way to “find and watch” and have made two particularly noteworthy breakthroughs recently:

Connecting the Dots on the Vodpod Graph

With hundreds of thousands of collectors on Vodpod — and tens of thousands maintaining especially deep collections — we’re able to connect you with the right collector so that you can get a video feed tailored to your interests and tastes. Whether you’re interested in soccerpoliticsviral videostechnology, motorsport, 3D graphics engines, electronica or something more obscure.

To get a sense of how this works, visit my collection and click the big sign up button. We’ll recommend other collectors for you to follow based on the member’s profile page you’re visiting (in this case, mine) — not just other members I’m following, but members like me, with tastes and interests similar to mine:

Our ability to connect you to other people on Vodpod with increasing sophistication would not be possible without the deep video collections, annotated with rich metadata, curated by our members. If people are nodes in social graphs, our “nodes” are particularly unique — they allow us to build a more comprehensive video discovery map than anyone else. In short: Collections Matter.

Inline Playback from the Vodpod Feed

Once you’ve connected with some Vodpod members and have started following them, you see a feed of the videos they collect on your Vodpod home page. The feed itself is similar to those you use on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Buzz — with the difference that it’s video centric, and enables you to watch videos from 10,000s of sites right from your Vodpod home page.

You can watch, comment on, recommend and collect videos curated by people you follow from your Vodpod home page.

With these two new features, we’ve seen significant changes in how Vodpod is being used. While we’ve offered the ability to “follow” other members for years, there’s been an explosion in the number of members following other members and in the number of videos watched and collected and commented on from the feed over the past couple of weeks.

It’s not hard to understand why. It’s a new and more fun and pleasing way to find and watch video. Social video discovery, perhaps. Try it out — we’d love to hear what you think.