If you've ever been to a conference or some sort of large event, you've probably seen a live Twitter stream in action. Up on a big screen in a prominent place, often the stage itself, the live stream tracks the relevant hashtags or keywords about the event, be it a conference, a panel, a meetup, or some other sort of heavily-tweeted gathering.
But sometimes there's an issue with displaying the raw, unfiltered tweets in this way: they can be disruptive. All it takes is one Twitter user trying to be funny - or, worse, a troll saying something rude - to take the discussion off course. Now there's a new solution to deal with this problem: Paratweet.
Paratweet is a new application that lets organizers moderate tweets about their event before they hit the big screen. With this, the potential disruptions are nipped in the bud, so they don't become the focus instead of whatever's happening on stage.
After signing up for a Paratweet account, you create a new event, set up some keywords or hashtags to monitor, and you can even enter an onscreen question for the audience to respond to, if desired.
As the tweets begin to stream in, you simply approve or reject them by clicking the green plus sign or red X as necessary. If you don't want to manually moderate tweets, you can choose to auto approve them instead. After you have a few tweets approved, you hit the button marked "Live Display Control" to start streaming the approved tweets to the "Live Display Application."
This "Live Display Application" is an Adobe AIR app designed just for Paratweet and it's meant to be run on the computer connected to the projector, LCD, or CCTV. Also, because you log in to the AIR app with your Paratweet account to pull the relevant tweets, you don't have to perform the moderation on the same PC as the one being used for display, although you certainly could.
Paratweet isn't the first application to deliver Twitter moderation functionality - Twubs, for example, also offers a live events app with this capability. However, Paratweet offers a couple of extra features which gives it an edge.
For one, it includes a profanity filter which you can turn on or off as desired - an item that was definitely on the wish list of pastors who wanted to use Twitter during their sermons or other church events, like youth group meetings. It also links the moderation app and display app via a secret code for extra security in order to make sure no one but those approved to do so can moderate the tweets. The code is unique to each event.
Unlike using search.twitter.com, Paratweet lets you track multiple search terms or hashtags at once. As the tweets come in, you can optionally play or pause the stream - helpful if the speaker wants to respond to something on the screen without the distraction of more tweets streaming by.
Unfortunately, all this Twitter goodness doesn't come cheap. Paratweet offers two pricing plans: $299 for 6 months and one event (which you can use over and over) or $599 for 6 months and 3 separate events. The $599 plan also includes the onscreen question feature, something unfortunately not found in the less expensive plan. Alternately, you can save by purchasing a yearly license for $999.