Twitterboard and the rise of distributed conversations

July 1st, 2009 / 08:07 by Ross Dawson

Twitterboard – a very interesting way of aggregating Twitter conversations on a website – launched in alpha yesterday.

Twitterboard describes itself:

Tweetboard is a fun and engaging micro-forum type application for your website. It pulls your Twitter stream in near real-time (max 1 min delay), reformatting tweets into threaded conversations with unlimited nesting. Conversations that spun off the original conversation are also threaded in-line, giving your site visitors full perspective of what’s being discussed.

The way it works is that tweets on the site are appended with posted.at/ and inreply.to/ short URLs which take people to the conversation. This means that people who see parts of the conversation on Twitter can go to the site to see a single threaded discussion.

Probably the most useful reference points for this service are the main distributed commenting systems: JS-Kit, Disqus, and IntenseDebate. These enable people’s comments on blogs and websites to become part of a broader conversation. As such they are fundamental to the evolution of a web that is fully integrated rather than simply a set of websites. JS-Kit alone is already implemented on over 600,000 websites.

Twitterboard, given the 140 character limit of Twitter (minus the space taken by the pointer URLs) is not comparable to full-featured commenting systems, however it does have the advantage of tapping where people are already spending their time making comments.

On the one hand the landscape is ripe for the rise of Twitter conversation aggregators, that enable specific conversations to be picked out from the morass of messages every minute, and also allow them to be visible alongside associated content.

However the existing distributed commenting systems also boast a very powerful foundation on which to build. Conversations need both to be linked to specific content, and also to be able to transcend particular websites. Those that can provide the next level of functionality, including of course very low barriers to contributing, will be in a very powerful position.

All of this of course links closely to the theme of influence, which will be covered in detail at our forthcoming Future of Influence Summit (where JS-Kit CEO Khris Loux will be speaking). Distributed commenting can readily amplify the prominence of content as well as bring it to the attention of relevant audiences. More on this theme later.