Texts From Last Night: Sleazy, delightful, delicious fun. Everyone was suspect to send or receive ludicrous SMS and TFLN provided for hilarious dialogue to appear behind a wall of area-code-anonymity. In 2010, TFLN founder Lauren Leto launched Bnter (which has been since renamed Banters) as an online hub to store any sort of dialogue. Many people signed up, hoping for a similar success to Texts From Last Night. But the service sat around in relative obscurity. Yesterday, Banters received a massive overhaul appealing to the image-centric world and the result is delicious.
The most pressing change is the inclusion of images to accompany each line of text. Images are driving activity on the web these days, not text (see: Pinterest, Memes, etc.).The idea stemmed from a ‘Tweet On Yo Face‘ hack that the wonderful people at Banter made. All it did was superimpose the text of the tweets in your stream on top of user’s profile photos. This brilliant concept coalesced into the redesign of Banters. “Why not give users what they want?” Leto told Paul Carr of PandoDaily.
The network of users on Banters is small, but if you go to the home page now, you’ll find a glut of text-enhanced images (or image-enhanced text, whichever you prefer). Under each category (general, love, wit, inspiration, literature, movies, tv, tech), there is a wall of refined meme-like banter.
Users can add their own banter to one of the aforementioned categories, or create “walls” which are organized streams around a specific topic. Multiple people can contribute to the wall, and moderation controls are specific to the creator. If you want to dedicate a wall to the wonderful things you say while inebriated, you can. If you want to create a hub for everyone to put their favorite quotes from famous artists, you can do that too.
There isn’t a better comparison to Banters 2.0 than the concept of memes. But instead of the image identifying with a concept, it simply denotes a speaker. The best, and my favorite, example of how Banter works is Leto’s own wall of “Real Conversations I Have with Boys Who Like Me.” Leto is the speaker in each dialogue, but the particular image of her changes the sentiment, alters the joke, and augments the hilarity. The grouping on a ‘wall’ forms the concept and each dialogue reinforces it—essentially an inverse meme. (another great wall is ‘Conversations with Nic Cage‘.)
How Banters will evolve from here is highly questionable, but I have a lot of faith in it. Rather, I have a lot of faith in the Internet to get behind this type of concept. What will really key Banter in to success is to gather all types of conversation in one place: real and fictitious, famous and mundane. There has also been no update to the Banters mobile app yet. Seeing as I previously only accessed Banters from my phone, this is a gaping hole.
As someone who runs a fake Twitter account that spews out random quotes, this is an absolute delight and much better than the twisted world of memes.