Secret Wants To Be The Stream Of Consciousness For Live Events, Starting With CES

Which panel at this conference isn’t boring? Where’s the after-party?  Your friends and followers around the world probably don’t know or care. But people nearby might, and Secret wants to connect you to them. Today Secret launches a CES feed that only people at the conference can share to. While posts will be anonymous, the point is to create a hyper-local backchannel for temporary communities.

Secret experimented with an event-based feed on the web at SXSW last year, collecting posts tagged #SXSW or from the area. The new CES feed is different, as it’s visible right in the Secret app and can only be viewed, not posted to, by people outside the geofence in the center of the Las Vegas strip.

Secret's dedicated feed for CES

Secret’s dedicated feed for CES

“I’ve been to other conferences, and people are always trying to figure out what’s going on. There’s never been a good way to get that all in one place” says Secret co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler. Retweets, mentions, and hashtag use by outsiders make Twitter too noisy to be a backchannel for events.

Secret Feed ChooserSecret’s plan could unlock sharing that people self-censor for fear of annoying their followers on other social networks. CES and SXSW are perfect examples, where excitable nerds either drown out everything else on Twitter with their babbling about Samsung keynotes and wearable launches, or worry they will and stay silent.

“You know how being at a conference, you’re in a panel or somewhere and want to get your opinion out there but don’t want to send it to all your followers who might not care?” Bader-Wechseler asks. Dedicated event feeds on Secret could be the answer.

Rather than sharing to your Friends or city’s feed, you open the CES stream in the Secret iOS or Android app and post freely about whatever’s going on. All recent posts will show up in the New tab for CES, while those that get the most hearts will be bundled into the Best tab.

Friends or people from your normal location won’t see what you say. And thanks to the recently added Chat feature, you’ll be able to follow-up in private if you want more panel or party recommendations, to gripe about the event, or to try to hookup. A lot of talk on the CES thread so far has been talking about their desires for *ephemeral romance* while in Vegas.

Redesigned Secret on the left, which looks just like Yik Yak on the right

Redesigned Secret on the left, which looks just like Yik Yak on the right

The more ephemeral, real-time chatter expected from the CES feed will benefit from Secret’s new stripped down design seen above. Last month the app sacrificed its big, beautiful images overlaid with text for a white space-heavy, text-focused feed that I skewered for looking just like Secret competitor Yik Yak.

Bader-Wechseler explains that the redesign was meant to make it feel quick and easy to post, rather than like composing a piece of visual art. The pictures were pretty, but it was the text that mattered, and now users can read a lot more posts in the same amount of time because they’re stacked tighter with less scrolling necessary.

CES ThreadIf the CES feed is a hit, Bader-Wechseler tells me “You’ll see a lot more of these event-driven spaces”, possibly at Sundance, SXSW, or Coachella. Snapchat has recently found success with its event-based Geofilters and collaborative Our Story live streams for events like the World Cup, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and New Year’s Eve. Creating channels for temporary events, not just locations, could give Secret an edge over Yik Yak.

The redesign certainly obliterated much of Secret‘s identity and style in the name of function. But if reducing the barrier to entry can turn it into the invisible social fabric weaving together people in the same place, it could pay off.