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Do you find that social networks are bloated with links and mundane chatter, without not enough social conversation? A website called Tawkers seeks to bring meaningful conversations back to the internet, by allowing two people to have a public instant message conversation.

After launching the web service last year, Tawkers recently released a free iPhone app to encourage mobile discussion. Conversations play out via text-based chat live between two parties, while other Tawkers members can participate with comments and questions.

Getting Started

Tawkers hosts conversations on a wide range of topics, ranging from health and wellness to popular culture, music, religion – even parenting.

A few notable conversations include comedian Lee Camp and activist, writer, and singer Eleanor Goldfield about the more crucial ignored news items of 2013, and best selling authors, Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi, held a debate about what influences brain activity and how we should take care of ourselves mentally.

A few recent Tawks include discussions about fad diets, Navigating the Obamacare Deadline, how to make the most of social media, and an interesting, rarely public discussion, about demystifying BDSM! These events are similar to Twitter conversations Conweets & Tweetbot - Two Ways To View Conversations On Twitter Conweets & Tweetbot - Two Ways To View Conversations On Twitter Read More and the question and answer format Quora - Share Your Knowledge & Find The Best Answers To Your Toughest Questions Quora - Share Your Knowledge & Find The Best Answers To Your Toughest Questions Read More found on Quora, but are a bit more formal.

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You can register with Tawkers using your Facebook or email account. After setting up your profile, you can follow other Tawker members just as you do on other social network sites. Tawkers includes a notifications page for your account that lists on-site activities, such as invitations to co-host a Tawk, and a listing of your new followers.

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You can select upcoming Tawks and get reminders, invite other Tawker members to hosted conversations, and announce events to other social networks.

Tawkers reminder

During a hosted conversation, audience members can write comments that will be seen by the hosts. Hosts in turn can spotlight comments, which pulls them on the main “stage” of the conversation. For now, all conversations on Tawkers are for public viewing only.

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On the Tawkers homepage you can find a list of currently popular, and upcoming Tawks. Some Tawks offer interesting discussions that you might only find online, like singer songwriters Blake Ian and Jake Incao discussing the anxieties of preparing for a big gig. A more weightier conversation, between Camp and Goldfield, focused on the question of, “Will Technology Save or Enslave Us?” and how can it be put to better use.

Hosting a Tawk

Any Tawkers member can schedule a Tawk and invite a co-host for the event– the setup is easy and straight-forward, allowing you to invite friends using email and social networks. Hosting a Tawk might useful for further exposing a social issue you’re passionate about, or holding a discussion about your startup, or your recently published book or video. A series of Tawks were hosted earlier this year by a few Peace Corps volunteers, and green business guru, Aaron Meyers, about the classic book, Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered.

Tawkers hosting

Though similar conversations do take place on forums and niche websites, Tawkers provides a more formal, curated setting, which are perhaps less annoying than Twitter conversations Do Personal Conversations On Twitter Annoy You? Blether To The Rescue! Do Personal Conversations On Twitter Annoy You? Blether To The Rescue! As some of you may know, I am not a huge fan of Twitter. One of the major things that constantly annoy me is people who, whether knowingly or not, engage in lengthy personal conversations... Read More . While there are several dozen posted conversations on Tawkers, it seems it could use a lot more.

Get Tawking

The release of the iPhone Tawkers app may indeed invite a wider and more mobile audience, though I think an optimized iPad version will make for better reading and participation in a hosted event.

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All of the features of the online platform are present in the iPhone app, though you do have to switch between different pages to see other participating members and their comments. The web version displays both the main and audience conversations in two columns.

Tawkers is similar to Google Hangout conversations Get More Out Of Google+ Hangouts With These 5 Creative Ideas Get More Out Of Google+ Hangouts With These 5 Creative Ideas Google+ Hangouts are a pretty cool tool - one which we've put to good use here at MakeUseOf. Whether it's to hold editorial meetings or to host our own Podcast, Technophilia, we're big fans of... Read More , but conversations are purely text-based. Let us know what think Tawkers and how you see it as being beneficial. Check out the video below for more information about Tawkers.

Download: Tawkers for iPhone (Free)

  1. Caroline
    April 6, 2014 at 7:59 am

    We may not all have the flair and eloquency of the Victorians but many more of us can read and write now (well....unless the downward spiral of the state education system continues...). I'm not sure writing a letter is a fair comparison as that process takes planning and care. The situation is diffferent now with people chatting freely and in an unfiltered fashion online, as they do in face to face conversations. Most conversations in public spaces, whether vocal or online are pretty banal anyway but they are also spontaneous and genuine. I really like the idea of a hosted conversation in Tawker and could definitely use the guest speaker idea in forum/groups I participate in on Facebook. We have topic nights on Facebook and Twitter but the stream of comments can get lost as people chip in, I'd be interested to see how the host thread interracts on Tawker. Good luck with the project :)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      April 7, 2014 at 12:54 am

      Caroline, thanks for your feedback. I like the idea of topic nights on Facebook and Twitter. Tawker could probably benefit from that same type of gathering. Check it out and let us know what you think.

    • dragonmouth
      April 7, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      "many more of us can read and write now"
      That is arguable. Yes, more of us can make legible marks on a sheet of paper and more of us can decipher marks on a sheet of paper but that does not mean we are more literate. Just read the journalistic output, whether online or hardcopy. Many of those who style themselves journalists would not have passed a basic English Composition class couple of decades ago, let alone be compared to the Victorians in flair and eloquency. And don't get me started on the bloggers. Stream of conciousness is not a literary style.

      "I’m not sure writing a letter is a fair comparison as that process takes planning and care."
      And that is part of the problem. You are only writing a letter, not the Great American Novel.

  2. dragonmouth
    April 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Hellooooo!!! It takes people to have a conversation. If the people want to exchange inanities, banalities and idiotic comments, no app is going to help. Ever since web communication (email. IM, etc) began, the quality of conversation has been going down. The latest MUO Caption Contest shows where interpersonal communication is heading. People do not know how to communicate without a smart phone. Couple of million years ago we started communicating with grunts which eventually developed into intelligible speech. In the last few years, human conversations have gotten shorter and more cryptic. Eventually we'll be back to communicating with grunts again.

    • Technophoria
      April 5, 2014 at 7:01 am

      Interesting that you feel this started with web apps. I remember people saying the same things about telephones when I was a kid. I actually think your post contradicts your point a bit. We can very easily communicate in longer form, but even in real world "meatspace" conversations many of them can devolve into short guttural comments, for an example see any sports conversation. While it's true we don't have the flair in our writing style that was more common amongst Victorian era letters, I think it's important to remember the frequency and cost associated with communication at the time. As with many things, as costs go down, you'll get more frequent, if smaller usage. Personally, I have hope that this perception is just confirmation bias, and that we'll continue to evolve our means of communications to be more effective and personal.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      April 7, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Hmm, dragonmouth, I'm not sure we're experiencing a downgrade in communication, if I'm understanding you correctly. The world wide web, is just that— global and wide, and it includes a vast array of voices, a lot mere chatter, and some of very engaging. And say what you will about the MUO caption contest, there's tons of content on this and thousands, if not millions, of other serious content producing sites. The Internet is an information-based tool and resource with that grows by the second.

      My issue is that we don't actually have time to consume a lot of information available to us, and there's fewer and fewer places for people to connect and have real dialogue.

    • dragonmouth
      April 7, 2014 at 11:56 am

      "The latest MUO Caption Contest shows where interpersonal communication is heading."
      My fault for not being more precise. Just illustrates my point about people taking shorcuts in communicating and assuming that others are thinking along the same lines. I was referring to the "You May Now Text the Bride" caption specifically, not to Caption Contets in general.

      While technology has made communication easier and more widely accessible, it has done nothing for its quality. Quite the contrary, technology has made 140 character text bites the height of literacy and text speak the epitome of erudition. You should sometime read a few essays written by college students. Better yet, read how journalist are writing. Twain, Faulkner, Hemingway are spinning in their graves.

      "My issue is that we don’t actually have time to consume a lot of information available to us"
      Yes, we are faced with an infomation overload but that does not mean we have to try to absorb all of it right this very minute. When you need a drink of water, you do not pick up a fire hose.

      "there’s fewer and fewer places for people to connect and have real dialogue."
      Bovine excrement! People themselves are the ones who limit the amount of interpersonal interaction they engage in. I don't know if it is the desire for instant gratification or short attention span but young people would rather text and tweet than carry on a a real dialogue.

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