I’ve admired Manuel Kiessling’s marvelous A Really Simple Chat (ARSC) program since I saw Greg Elin using it as conference support back in 2002. Greg and I played around with it some more that fall for a small social software conference, adding some features specific to backchannel support (detailed in In-Room Chat as a Social Tool.)
Now Manuel is beta-testing 3.0 of ARSC, and it’s got a lot of native support for backchannel features — there’s a specific ‘in room chat’ room, with Jerry Michalski’s ‘red card/green card’ system built in. There is also a defult ‘Display’ user (beta login ‘Display’, passwd ‘arsc’) whose view of the chat is optimized for projection or plasma screen by boosting the font size and dropping the input features.
He’s also added user levels and two-level moderation, along with a number of other new features.
The goal, says Manuel, is to “…make it possible to set up a digital backchannel in under 2 minutes, without any dirty hacks.” You can play with the beta version on his site, or install your own.
As always, the advantages of ARSC are its ability to circulate access to a chat via URL, which is often simpler than getting people to download special software for irc., and allows a variety of strategies for inclusivity and exclusivity.
I still have some LazyWeb requests for ARSC. The main one is to be able to turn the current message post-processing tool into a full-fledged Atom feed, to make it easier to archive, monitor, and even bridge between ARSC and irc.
I’d also like to see some sort of ‘scroll-speed’ setting, where, when there are more than a dozen or so interjections in a minute, the later comments are pre-cached and roll out on the screen at some specified maximum pace, rather than the earlier comments flying off the screen. When things get crazy, make the machines do the work, not the people…
And Manuel has registered inroomchat.org as well — nothing there yet, but he says he’s going to “…set up a wiki there for all things social software/in-room chat/digital backchannel.”