Jumat, 10 Juli 2009

Twitter-like Chat Interface

If you don't know Twitter, then you should go and have a look at www.twitter.com. Twitter is a free service that lets user send their at-most-140-characters status updates to the Internet. Currently it has grown to more than just status updates. Twitter now has their share in forming current trends -or so they say.

At the time I'm writing this post, I just started using Twitter. At first I simply used it to broadcast my status. Then I grab myself a Twitter widget and put it in my blog so I can have a dynamic status updates in my blog. Lame, huh? :)

It was not long before I met kriwil and rinaldirei at Twitter. I knew them when I was in college. I never expected to meet them at Twitter though. A couple of days later, I found out that kriwil and rinaldirei was actually very talkative. It seems both of them often got involved in a conversation through Twitter. I don't remember when but those two drew my attention and before I knew it I'm already joining their conversation.

I enjoyed exchanging updates with kriwil and rinaldirei. Twitter has a limit of 140 characters for a single message -that's less than the common limit for an SMS- so that it's normal that we would frequently send new messages. There are times when we got so intense that it feels like I'm chatting with them.

So this morning kriwil mentioned something related to Twitter and chat. He said it would be great to have a chat interface like Twitter where we won't need new windows or window tabs for multiple conversations. The idea was interesting but what's the different with a typical conference? It was morning and it seems my brain was working kinda slow. :)

What kriwil wanted to say, from my point of view, was something like message-pooling. Every message that was sent to us in a chat session would show up in one window. The same window would obviously shows the message that we sent to others in the same session.

Confusing, huh? An example then.

Let's say A is having a chat with B. At the same time A is also chatting with C. In a typical instant messaging client, A would definitely have two chat windows or at least two chat window tabs.

With kriwil idea, A won't need two windows or windows tabs. A would only need one windows where he can see messages between him and B along with messages between him and C. This is what I call Twitter-like Chat Interface because this is how Twitter treats messages for each user.

What's the difference between this method and a typical conference? This method only allows B and C to see their own messages and messages they receive from A. B can't see messages sent between A and C. The same thing goes for C where he can't see messages sent between A dan B. In a typical conference, messages were sent to every single participant. So in a conference, A, B, and C could see the same messages.

At this point you might ask what would be the benefit of having such a Twitter-like interface?

kriwil mentioned mobile Internet users. In mobile phones, screen size are limited. Opening more than two windows or window tabs was like opening two different application. I agree to this argument because I've experienced this myself. It was annoying to chat with more than one people at the same time through my mobile.

That's why I think kriwil's idea was good -I don't wanna exaggerate and call it brilliant. I would love it if my mobile messenger client would only need one single interface to show all my chat sessions.

Note: I'm sure it's easier to explain with pictures, but my resources are limited.

6 komentar:

  1. we want pictures, we want pictures. hehehe :D

  2. Not with only Paint as my image editor. :p

  3. now, we need implementation people! :D

  4. I'd like to try, but IM application are out of my reach. I don't even know where to start. :p

  5. the question is, whether talking with more than one person is GOOD in the first place.

    it basically train your brain to keep forking, and perhaps soon you'll become one with short attention span problem, like many of 'PLAYSTATION' generation I guest, including myself :P

    so, what is the better way to communicate in this era, without actually having a drawback in our ability?

  6. In relation to the topic, I forgot to emphasize the fact that such an interface could result in messages jumbled together in a single window. The more person you chat with, the higher the risk of getting lost in a conversation. However, since it's basically chat sessions, we can easily scroll back to keep track of the topics at hand.

    Talking with more than one person might be one of the cause of Short Attention Span problem. However, in my opinion, the amount of concentration you'll need when talking is not the same as when you're chatting. As I said above, you can easily scroll back to view previous conversation. With less concentration needed, the risk of wearing out your brain would be lower.

    That being said, the interface was not meant to suggest its users to chat with as many people as they can. The interface was meant to help mobile users (or users with limited screen size) to minimize their effort in switching from one chat interface to another.