When Bnter launched in late 2010, its aim was to become a place to share amusing, or otherwise interesting, snippets of SMS’d conversation. And it got a decent amount of attention (and investment), largely because of co-founder Lauren Leto’s previous success with Texts From Last Night. What Bnter didn’t get however, even after renaming as the snappier ‘Banters‘ and broadening its mission to all overheard conversations, was a ton of traction.
With the latest version of the service, which launched today, Leto and her co-founder Patrick Moberg hope to change that.
The most obvious change is the arrival of giant photos to accompany each quote, a tacit admission that the Internet is increasingly a visual, not textual, medium. Says Leto, “I was fine with just text, but we built a ‘Tweet On Yo Face‘ hack [which overlays the tweets of people you follow on a photo of their face] and it was huge, so figured why not give users what they want?”
The more visual approach also encourages Banters users to be creative with the conversations they quote. On the front page, there are numerous examples of celebrity quotes, and Leto has even created an entire page full of imaginary conversations between her and famous “boys who like me.” (It’s good to know James Franco is as much of a dick in Leto’s imagination, as he is in mine.)
That ability to create ‘walls‘ of themed ‘Banters’ is another big new feature on New Banters, allowing multiple users to share conversations on a single topic. Users can restrict who can post on a given wall, either with or without moderation. It’s pretty neat.
Ultimately, the success of Banters depends on whether it becomes the defacto home of both famous and mundane quotes on the Web. In its text-only iteration, that seemed pretty unlikely: It was a nice idea, well executed, but there just weren’t enough reasons to use it over somewhere like Twitter or Facebook, where your friends already live.
The new Banters changes that. Seeing quotes overlayed on enormous faces, and collecting them together on themed walls turns the whole thing into a gigantic meme machine. I can easily imagine spending many happy minutes hacking together groups of “stupid shit heard in editorial meetings” or “things my publisher says,” stuff for which a Twitter hashtag doesn’t really cut it.