March 7, 2012
Does your Twitter feed ever look like your friends are all conspiring to bore you with the same link, stealthily disguised by different URL shorteners?
This is what I call the retweet problem: tweets around the same content can clog up your feed, wasting your precious 3-minute break for scanning Twitter.
Echoer, a Montreal-based startup launching in April, tackles that issue. Just as tweets on Twitter get retweeted, “echoes” on Echoer’s iOS app get “amped” – except the original echo isn’t repeated, it just gets more prominent. (Recent echoes and echoes by popular users are also “louder.”) Echoes can be thoughts, event notices, reviews, or discoveries in your area – like the best neighborhood dive bar or an impromptu flash mob.
But unlike Twitter, Echoer is meant to be location-based: you can see the thoughts of people nearby on a map, like reading the collective neighborhood’s mind. And not only is Echoer’s design cute and dynamic – echoes bubble up as they get louder – it also makes scanning easier with color-coded content: blue for thoughts, red for events, and yellow for discoveries.
That said, solving the RT problem also means less creativity – like MTs (modified tweets) or comments before RTs – and the risk of an echo chamber. (Funnily enough, Echoer calls the bubble visualization pictured right an “echo chamber.”)
And Echoer may still drown in the noise of other location-based discovery apps. Rather than pulling in thoughts from Twitter or Facebook, the startup needs to sign up enough users to post directly on their app. To do this, they’re aiming for partnerships: Echoer will be featured at a charity event in Ontario, a “leading music and cultural festival” at the end of April (through a third-party app), the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, and a tech conference at the Kellogg School of Management.
During its public beta in Canada, Echoer has also seen some traction – surprisingly – in school clubs and classrooms.
“A college in Montreal recently had a vote on whether the teachers should go ahead with a planned strike. The students adopted Echoer as a channel to air their thoughts and amplify the ones that mattered most!” explains cofounder Daniel Cowen.
Echoer will be adding content for Austin, so check them out at Tech Cocktail’s #StartupLife Celebration at SXSW.
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