Thursday, December 23, 2004


Big day for me. With a lot of help from my friends I finally got Multichat working on my laptop, put up a wiki page (static image below, for posterity) in the new Lab For Social Computing describing the system , and set up a project page for the team. I really think we're on to something.


Multichat is a real-time variation on Tony Chang's Webnote (i.e., in our variant you see what people are typing as they type).

I'm running it on my personal computer, so if I'm online, please check it out. Chat me at jonschullaim, and I'll give you a URL and show you around. If I'm not online, you can get a partial feel for it from this:

The project was initially inspired by the need for a cross-platform, type-as-you-talk, multi-person chat program optimized to facilitate face to face conversations between deaf and hearing students in the classroom. (see First in Class Deafness Project at RIT).

But (thanks to the webnote foundation and to collaborator/coder Mike Axelrod) it turns out to be far more powerful than that. It will eventually work as a peer to peer system supporting conversations between any number of connected users (with or without access to the internet).

Moreover, we think we know how use it to add real time social "presence" to websites. (This variation is inspired by John Cappiello's wikalong and the mind-blowing "Just Letters" So imagine a sidebar or companion browser window that can be yoked to an arbitrary URL in the main window. "Let's meet at the New York Times website," you might say and once there you will not only be able to see what people have written before, you'll be able to see what they are talking about in real time. ("Gee, I wonder what they're chatting about at slashdot..." you wonder), and whoever is loitering on that"street corner" will be visible to you.

Multichat is coded in python on the server side and javascript
on the client side. By the time we're done we'll be doing some
interesting things with java and streaming content as well. If you'd like to play along, let me know!!! It's open source, and the whole point is to create a widely-used social software application that is incidentally a wonderful tool for Deaf<->Hearing communication.

Collaborators, co-designers, co-developers, and co-conspirators include