Twitter is great, but when you’re trying to hold a private conversation with someone it gets a little clunky. To fire direct messages back and forward, both parties have to be following each other. That’s not too bad on the face of it, except when you want to say something privately to, say, your mobile phone provider, and discover that they have a policy of not following individual accounts.
Another limitation of direct messages is that they are always one-to-one… there’s no option to send them to a wide group of people or hold a conversation that involves more than two participants.
What to do? Well, how about a chat system that integrates with Twitter and allows you to invite multiple Twitter users to talk? Enter stage left: Blether.
The word Blether is Scottish slang, and means idle chatter, or to engage in conversation. See where this is going?
Blether, the online service, is built on a platform by Zendit, who are based in Dunfermline, Scotland. To find out all about the service, I invited Kevin Bradshaw, CEO of Zendit and Blether, to chat about it in the Blether service itself. Kevin tells me that Zendit has been about two years in the making, between setting the company up and getting the basic platform built. As an indication of how powerful it is, it only took about a month to build Blether on top of Zendit.
So what does Blether actually do? It’s basically a chat room, but it’s triggered from within Twitter. By typing !b and the names of some Twitter users (e.g. “!b @cdhinton @someone_else”) a personal room is generated which only the invited Twitter users have access to. Additional people can be added from within the room, so you don’t have to panic if you forgot to invite someone, but at least you know nobody will be in there without an invite.
One downside of many chat rooms is that once you leave the room you lose any record of the conversations that took place. Some offer a mechanism to export a chat, but Blether just saves it right there. Next time you visit Blether.co your previous Blethers will still be there for you to review at your leisure.
Blether performs a simple function – enabling multi-person chat between Twitter users – but some of the best products out there are a mixture of simplicity and elegance. Blether is easy to use, and does what it does well. I would say it’s sure to be a success. And what else is coming from Zendit in future? Kevin couldn’t (or rather, wouldn’t) tell me, but did say there was more to come. Watch this space…
Have you tried Blether yet? Do you see a use for a Twitter-launched chat function? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.