Collected thoughts about ThoughtStreams, started after several months of use.
I mostly use ThoughtStreams as a brain-dumping grounds for isolated topics -- surprise, right? That's pretty much what it was designed for.
Thanks to the ability to create streams within streams, thought, it can also easily grow to become a kind of rough-and-ready knowledge base. The interface encourages (but doesn't mandate) succinctness and brevity.
I don't think inline comments on cards would be helpful, but bidirectional "reference" could be ideal.
In the below example, two users have their own separate streams relating to the same topic. The reference systems allows them to refer to each other and exchange ideas, while keeping each person's stream somewhat discrete.
Someone else mentioned this too (can't find it right now).
I like the idea of at least two types of links:
"Responses", where a whole card is basically conceived as a direct response to another card.
The "referee" would include a Trackback-style link to the responding card at the bottom (similar to this pic). The responding card would include a link at the top similar to the way reposted cards are displayed.
"References", which allow you to just reference other cards. These could appear in the new card as footnotes.
Again, the "referee" would then include a link to the new card.
Basically, I'd love to be able to use Thoughtstream's "cognitive style" in the context of a discussion as well as for simple, isolated brain-dumps. Currently we have to go to Twitter to actually close the loop.
"Turns out as we implement this, that just allowing people to repost other people's cards to their own streams is both simple and (potentially) effective (although we'll have to see how people like it in practice)."
If reposts work like what I call "responses" (#1 above), with opt-out for trackback links, then I'm in favor. All the better if the reposted content can be edited for relevance.
You can now repost other people's cards to your streams!
We plan to refine this further with notifications and opt-out links, but this is a simple but significant change which will hopefully spawn all sorts of possibilities in terms of responding to the thoughts of others.
Replying to jtauber's thoughts on the subject;
I think that the system for replying to a thought should be very straightforward; just have a bi-directional link, and perhaps an (optional) notification. Similar to how I can extract a card from my own stream and create a new stream, I should be able to extract a card from someone else's.
this stream contains substreams about meta things - like my thoughts about the site itself.
I thought of this as well. Reposted cards are marked as reposted, but to the uninitiated reader there's nothing to indicate how much of the card's contents are original vs new thoughts from the owner of the rest of the stream. Actually, of course, 100% of the reposted card's text is original, but the nature of that text can often make it ambiguous. For example, if the reposted card includes a quote and a response, how is the reader supposed to easily divine that both the quote and response are included in the repost?
Anything that reduce the likelihood of other people's words being mistaken for your own would be welcome.
Ideally, one or more of the following: left-shifted margins; reposted card's author's avatar; slightly darker background.
(In my thinking, shifting the margins of reposted cards to the right might make it appear that the repostee was "replying" in some sense to the reposter's thoughts, which is often not the case.)
Repost notifications are the final piece needed to make a basic, self-contained discussion loop possible on ThoughtStreams. By reposting cards, I can now add extensive thoughts to those of others, but currently they're not likely to know about it unless they regularly re-check every card in their streams.