Where you define the rules of online communication.


THWONK is an exciting and dynamic approach to creating online communities that allows participants to alter the rule sets of these systems. The project is a Web 4.0 application (yes, we are skipping Web 3.0!) that allows for the full manipulation of the rules of social engagement that these systems normally exhibit. The project enables dynamic realisations by users as to how their behaviour in online communication is determined by the constraints of the medium. It is the intention of the project to motivate people to design their own rules of communication. We intend to use mailing lists to start this experience and plan to further expand the project into other forms of online social networking. The project is a successor to the highly successful “BumpList” Project. Please visit BumpList.net to experience this project and see the THWONK FAQ page for more details about the project.

Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Mike Bennett


FutureSonic 2009“,
5/13/09 – 5/16/2009, Manchester, United Kingdom.

Thwonk.com is currently offline until we find a new server


In the digital age, networked communication platforms and mediums are becoming more and more user friendly and allow for multitudes of types of interaction, voices, and exchanges of images, sounds, and text, both synchronously and asynchronously. Messages can be sent, voices can be heard, and events can be realized with organization and clarity that never before existed. In particular, emailing lists have become important means of maintaining ties within groups, relaying important information among peers or collaborators, and forging a sense of community that transcends all national and cultural boundaries.

Currently, we are actively encouraged to join public email lists. Unless a list adheres to certain rules, is password protected, or made private, anyone with a valid email address can join the discussion. We are also used to conventions of email lists such as subscribe/unsubscribe functions, digest mode, broadcast mode, and public archives of threaded messages. THWONK allows you to customize the social rules of communication, rather than just the administrative organization of these systems.


THWONK is custom built system that encourages people to redefine the social rules of email lists. The project includes a basic section that enables users to tweak rules of existing list designs, these include the following:


Bump List: Subscription is limited to x subscribers. When a new subscriber joins the list, they “bump” or “unsubscribe” older subscribers already on the list. Users must “re-subscribe” to join.

Convergent List: The subject matter of messages sent by participants is analyzed with those of other “Convergent Lists” and if similar topics are being discussed, the two convergent lists then join into one list.

Divergent List: The subject matter of messages sent by participants is analyzed and if one or more participants continually discuss the same subject heading for longer than the prescribed amount of posts, those discussing the topic are diverted to a new, seperate list.

Time List: Subscribers are forced to respond to list emails or send a post within a specified amount of time, otherwise they are automatically unsubscribed from the list. This is meant to emphasize the instantaneous culture of electronic communication.

Location List: This type of list will only allow you to post if you are in a specific location.

Design Your Own (Basic): Choose from a basic variety of parameters to design your own list structure. We are constantly adding new parameters that can be integrated into your list design. Get started here if you are not a programmer and just want to experiment with different rules that can be adhered to an email list.

Design Your Own (Advanced): This section of the site allows advanced users to design, code, and publish custom rules which will be made available in the “Basic” section of the site.

Picture of THWONK on display at FutureSonic 2009 (5/13/09 – 5/16/2009):