Connecting prose and its surrounding Twitter conversation

Most people don’t hang out on Slate Star Codex and refresh the page to see new comments. Consequently, the context for writing a comment on most blogs is limited to the moment in which one reads that article. By contrast, Twitter is a water cooler. It’s a continuous context, not a one-time context like Disqus. Ideas often surf the zeitgeist for quite some time through Twitter streams, continuously “re-upped” by someone new weighing in. Unfortunately, Twitter’s ephemeral nature makes it hard to keep track of a complex conversation, relative to traditional forum presentations.

It may be possible to get the best of both worlds in web publishing: to use Twitter as the ongoing water cooler to keep conversations going, but to present those conversations in-context and as a coherent, legible set of threads instead of a pointillistic maelstrom.

We could even go one step further and present comments as marginalia when appropriate (akin to Google Docs), rather than as a separated mass at the bottom of an article, like most comment sections. In general, it’s interesting to consider ways to “break down the walls” between the conversational medium and the article medium.

Bringing the Twitter social graph into the article context can offer valuable social signals: what did my knowledgeable friends write about this thing? See also The mnemonic medium can surface “proof of memory” social signals.


Conversation with Michael Nielsen, 2019-12-10

Last updated 2023-07-13.