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This New Messaging App Talkshow Makes Your Texts Public (Sort Of)

It's more like a public Slack room.

Posted on April 26, 2016, at 3:01 p.m. ET

What Is Talkshow?

Talkshow is a new messaging app where all the conversations are public. The company says Talkshow "is texting in public," but it really feels much more like a public-facing Slack room — an ongoing conversation between multiple people, that anyone can see.

Wait. Isn't that Twitter?

No. Here's the difference: While all the chats on Talkshow are publicly viewable, only people you invite can join the conversation. On Twitter, not only do all conversations take place in public, but anyone who hits the reply button can join in.

Simply put, randos can't "actually" their way into your conversation on Talkshow like they can on Twitter. While someone can request an invitation, it's up to the host of a conversation whether or not to let them in.

But it's funny you should mention Twitter because Talkshow is from Michael Sippey, who used to run product there, and it is clearly informed by Twitter.

Huh. Okay. Is that the only difference? No randos?

Another substantial difference is that messages are organized into distinct sets, which makes them easy to follow.

Conversations in Talkshow take place within "shows." You can think of these as chat rooms, more or less.

Shows tend to work really well when they take place around a certain event that everyone is experiencing at the same time — for example, the NBA playoffs. That's especially true when the people in the conversation are knowledgable and funny. It can be a little like watching MST3K, but on your phone, and in text format.

Okay, so, how does it work?

You start a new show by clicking on a button. You give it a name. (An aside: everything should have a name.) Then you invite other people to be co-hosts of the show with you. And then you just start, well, texting each other. You can read more detailed instructions here.

While you can view conversations on the web, it's really set up for mobile. That's the only way you can take part in a show, and really, following along is something you probably will want to do on mobile as well. It's very much like a group text.

So it's only text?

No, you can add pictures too. And emoji. Even gifs. If you have one of those custom keyboards, you can add all sorts of stuff.

But, wait, what if people are jerks? People are often jerks.

Talkshow has ways to ban someone from following you or seeing any of your shows. If someone starts getting annoying in a particular show, you can also boot them. (Which is fun.) These tools could be better, or at least more apparent, but they exist at launch.

Is Talkshow fun?

Yeah. It's fun. It has some bugs, but you might as well go kick the tires.

I'm having a hard time picturing this. Can you show me an example?

Sure. Here's a conversation where BuzzFeed News writers Mat Honan (it me), Katie Notopoulos, Charlie Warzel, and Alex Kantrowitz use Talkshow to talk about Talkshow.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.