South by Southwest Interactive makes nerds look like rock stars, and their king is Twitter CEO Evan Williams. After all, Twitter owes much of its initial popularity to the 2007 South By Southwest, when it won the event's Web award. But he may have lost some of his subjects Monday, when he announced the Twitter @anywhere app in a capacity-filled ballroom at the show, with overflow broadcast to six additional rooms.

Many people walked out during the keynote address. And in a panel on Twitter tools following the talk, Guy Kawasaki, founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures and co-founder of Alltop, called the speech boring. That's probably not the reaction Twitter was hoping for.

The platform allows partner sites to integrate Twitter so that users can Tweet directly from these sites, for example, without first going to Twitter.com. With @anywhere, the company claims that site owners can add Twitter by simply dropping in a few lines of JavaScript. Users can now follow "a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! Home page," according to the Twitter blog.

Twitter already has attracted some heavyweight initial partners for @anywhere, including Amazon.com, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo, MSNBC.com, The New York Times, Salesforce.com and Yahoo.

Williams says the app can help foster the open exchange of information, add value for users and businesses and help Twitter "be a force for good." While many business already use Twitter, the company wants to give users a better and richer experience, he says. "Tapping into the reach and the technology of these partners is a way to bring more value to the Tweets."

Twitter also plans to share its data stream with more partners. The company last year signed deals to share its data stream with Google and Microsoft's Bing, and this year agreed to give Yahoo and seven startups access to its data as well.

Williams highlighted CoTweet, a platform that helps companies reach customers on Twitter, and Hootsuite, a professional Twitter application, as examples of third-party developers creating business products using Twitter. Twitter.com isn't a good interface for customer support and service, but those are, he said. Twitter expects to strike more deals with others, from the smallest start ups to larger specialized services, in the future, Williams added.

Overall, Twitter should be about reducing the walls between people who have a lot of influence and the people they influence, Williams said. "We're just realizing the promise of the Internet,'' he said. "It's about democratization of information."


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