SX: Reimagining Chat to avoid "neglected human communication"

Here’s a short list of some of my impressions and observations around online chat, FYI:

  • Our chatrooms are based on Matrix spec. Open channel, free software, secure and private.
  • Thus personal, it contains our “communication history”, and constitutes an “archive”.
  • Most people consider chat to be for superficial and casual exchange. Low-barrier, easy.
  • Effectively they see chat as ephemeral, where people fire & forget showerthoughts.
  • We quickly drop off stuff that saps each other’s time, and are off on our own way again.
  • Happily living detached from one another. Now let’s check that ‘doomscroll’ at fedi again.

→ Chat online as used today too often relates to a form of “neclected human communication”.
→ Chat online is fundamentally “out of whack” to how we chat when face-to-face offline.

Part of the mission of “Social experience design” is to envision a “Peopleverse” where online and offline worlds are balanced and seamlessly intertwined in support of our human lives and day-to-day activities.

“Reimagining social” is the slogan that conveys this notion, and Chat applications are in for some reimagining, if you ask me.

This topic is a placeholder to that :slight_smile:

Update: @jfinkhaeuser below correctly points out to put more nuance and context to the above.

I’d be careful with the assumptions here, in particular the last 2-3 bullet points. It may be that what you perceive as a bug is a feature for some.

I know I appreciate about online chat that I can pay near real-time attention to it when I want, and can treat it as asynchronous at other times. And I also know I’m not alone in this perception, though I can’t speak for how many other people want this.

Which isn’t so say that one can’t improve the social experience of it, of course. But it seems to me that improving the social experience for some can also exclude others here.

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You are totally right. And I should add that additional nuance. First of all, that that list constitutes my showerthoughts of the day… :sweat_smile:

Secondly, indeed:

  • Chatrooms cover certain purposes well. They may cover async/real-time context switching efficiently, and can be highly effective collab tools at times.

    • I have seen a few FOSS projects that are very productive in how they chat.
    • And how they manage to divide the relevant and less-relevant stuff in different rooms.
  • Very commonly I also notice that chatrooms are hindrance to effective collaboration.

    • People default to chatting for its low-barrier, where they should use or follow-up in other channels.
    • Other people zone out, TL;DR because of this, and even become inactive in the community.

All-in-all I feel that: These nuances, pros and cons for particular use cases, deserve a closer look.