July 13, 2014 thelabnyc@internetmedialabs.com Real-time. Relevant. Intelligent

TweetChat has a New Home and a New Purpose

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TweetChat.com has a new owner: Internet Media Labs.

Since the day an ominous message appeared across the top of TweetChat.com — “Twitter is changing the way services like @TweetChat deliver data to users. In the very near future, TweetChat will most likely be unable to continue to provide our service.” — IML has been in talks with Brooks Bennett, the creator of the beloved platform, to acquire it and make sure the site lives on.

Make no mistake — Brooks didn’t set out to sell the site. It was a labor of love, but the continuous changes to Twitter’s API meant continuous platform updates. And the sunsetting of the existing Twitter API meant the site as it is now would cease to work on June 11.

“There have always been requests to take the concept to the next level, and I am excited for the role OneQube’s SmartStream will play in filling this gap,” said Brooks, who agreed to sell the site to Internet Media Labs with the understanding that the application would be shut down and community migrated to oneQube #SmartStream (Also see: How to Use SmartStream). Brooks also is joining Internet Media Labs’ advisory board.

TweetChat was born four and a half years ago, after Brooks spoke at a public relations boot camp.

“I noticed many people at the camp getting excited about Twitter and social tools in general,” he told me. “Most people were creating their accounts and then would sit and stare at the screen thinking, ‘Now what?’ These folks were interested first and foremost in topics, not necessarily in specific people.”

Hashtags had come into use on Twitter in 2007 and while they had caught on, they were still rather niche.

“The hashtag was a new tool that folks were using, so I thought it would be cool to connect people in real-time around hashtags,” Brooks said. “The conference was on a Friday, so I spent the weekend putting a prototype together and presented it early the next week to my friends at Dorkbot Austin.”

It was love at first sight for many. I recall seeing Sarah Evans’ #journchat zipping through my TweetDeck in 2008 and wondering how the heck all these people participating were able to follow the conversation so easily. I asked a friend and he said, “Go to TweetChat.com and put in the hashtag.”

Whoa.

“The tool caught on very quickly and underwent a number of refinements over time based on feedback from the community,” Brooks said. “The mission never changed, to make a tool designed specifically to focus on a hashtag for a short period of time.”

Sarah, whose #journchat was the first regular weekly Twitter chat, has long been a fan of TweetChat and was sad to hear the Twitter API changes were forcing it to shut down.

“It was the best alternative available to help take a network, like Twitter, that wasn’t built for live chats and make it work,” Sarah said. She was pleased to hear who would be taking over the domain.

“Now, as Twitter has become mainstream, with more robust features, I couldn’t imagine a better company taking the reins and offering a more professional and comprehensive tool, than oneQube,” she said. “I, for one, will be using it to moderate and monitor #journchat.”

As Brooks noted, the tools for real-time social discussions are growing up.

“The hashtag has gone mainstream,” he said. “Most commercials during primetime not only reference a brand’s social accounts, but they reference a hashtag for people to use to discuss their products. Brands don’t own the message anymore, they are part of crafting it, but the community at large has a big part to play.”

TweetChat – A New Purpose

Now TweetChat has passed the torch on to SmartStream, and we are humbled and pleased to carry it on.  TweetChat will shut down as a chat platform June 10, as planned, but will relaunch June 11 as a content hub for everything about Twitter Chats and hashtags.

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