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The other night while taking part in #MobileChat (a weekly conversation on Twitter about mobile topics), I made the mention that it would be logical to expect that all those participating in the Twitter chat should be engaging it via mobile devices (browser, app, or service). Practicing what we are conversing if you will. Thing is, a Twitter chat is essentially a moderator led, uncontrollable talking pipe held together by a hashtag. What then would an app look like that adds a bit of order to the chaos of the chat? Well, I opened my mouth saying that I would think and (likely) sketch about it. Here’s some thoughts (and perhaps a few drawings) as to what’s going through my head.

Initial thoughts on specs:

  • Has to have a component where the person who is the moderator can be easily assigned and designated from other participants
  • Has to manage enabling someone to stay on topic, but also easily go into and out of sub-conversations
  • Pushes the normal Twitter stream (or one’s timeline) to the background
  • Has an auto and user-selectable setting for refreshing the chat stream

Now, every Twitter client is basically some kind of list-looking item (with the exception of my favorites Different Tack and twheel). Thing is, this is probably one of the few occasions where that vertical listing of tweets just might work best. Still, there are lessons (and preferences) from DTack which I think would serve a Twitter chat interface quite well. Here are some additonal specs based on those lessons:

  • Home screen shows latest group chats you’ve entered
  • Tap and drag hashtag to right to enter/begin group chat
  • Tap and drag screen to left takes you either back to home screen or back to the group chat timeline
  • Touch a screen name and drag to the bottom of the screen to get an info-panel showing the Twitter profile of the person

As I have been doing this sketch, I have been thinking a lot about whether this should e a separate app, or cold actually be something that Twitter could enable within its web or app properties as kind of a different mode to the site. If you will, you subscribe to a conversation and then get some kind of popup/alert that asks if you want to change the mode. Shoot, if Twitter really wanted to up something like this, a mode like this could be a pay-per-use where branded or promoted hashtags per region could be made into this segmented chat interface.

Because when I think about it, if done simply, this could just make the flow of conversations better. And then from a metrics perspective, an entirely different mode of Twitter now becomes something that actually looks like a conversation… at least when viewed thru this kind of lens.

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