Tags: Twitter IxD 101
Eric Reiss (@elreiss) from Copenhagen asked me in a private tweet, what’s my trick for conversations on Twitter. I told him so long story in the reply that I won’t bore you with. What I will tell you is the short version. I just like digital asynchronous conversations. I’ve been doing them since usenet/fidonet days when I was 1/2 the age I am now (even younger, b/c I’m older than most people think). But I also think that its because I love to engage people in this way. Discussion, argumentation, bitter fighting (for fun) is like water to a fish for me. So in the schema of approachable to enjoyable, it doesn’t have to be that easy for me to want to join in, provided the topic and the people involved are those I want to engage in and with.
But as a designer, I have listened to people like Eric (usually in wonder), but also in an attempt to understand. I mean, what is wrong w/ Twitter for conversation? With IxDA’s email list? and whatever else people have complained to me about over the last 20 years? Is there even a right way for everyone to chat or converse online? in real-time? asynchronously? in combination?
I’m not sure I have the perfect answer. People/organizations with a lot more resource are taking on the issue better than I can. I do think it is such a complex issue, and one that really hasn’t been given the real-world attention it deserves.
Even though I have said that I don’t quite get Google Wave, I do think that the work they are doing is ON that path of taking on this important issue. Who else is dong work at that level? (seriously, I’d love to know. Is anyone outside of university putting stuff in the hands of real people like Google Wave?)
But right now, I’m all about Twitter. And the initial question from Eric (@elreiss) got my attention going and I think I may have just come up with an interesting answer to the Twitter conversation problem.
First off, we have to realize that there are conversations and then there are conversations. HA! … What I mean is that the best conversations on Twitter are always the ones that started from a spark and not a call to communicate. Someone says something either provocative (on purpose) or quite innocently that someone else grabs onto and then boom! a conversation starts. This is not the same as a person saying, hey! let’s have X chat online from 7-8. It is this former type that I’m interested in here. (Maybe my suggestion can help the other type, but I don’t know.)
Ok, so here is the idea … non-timeline channels. (or some other metahor: room, closet, courtyard, cube, carol, etc.
Here’s what I imagine. Someone posts something that sparks a discussion. A back and forth begins. At some point someone does the usual (this would be better outside of the 140char limit). Instead of saying that, they would create a break out.
There would be a link put on the status icon of a person who is in a breakout. That icon has a hover over text w/ the breakout topic and anyone is free to join it (some sort of spam/undesirable removal system in place).
People who are in the breakout can tag specific entries in the system (or even string selections) as full tweetable. This can serve as bait to get the more people into the breakout and let others know the content.
Then, like favorites, a breakout can be tagged so that it is added in a similar way as a tweet in a favorites like repository, or some other way to be made historical.
Does tinychat.com already do this? I’m not too sure it has all the pieces yet. I know it does some pieces in a slightly annoying way. But it also is sorta outside the eco-system in an odd behavioral way, too, from my experience.
What do other people think?