Social Software

Thinking about iChat…

I’ve been thinking a bit about instant messaging clients since I submitted my IM contacts to Buddyzoo. In order to upload my buddy lists I had to switch from iChat – my default messaging client – to AIM. For the first time in months I remembered how useful it is to produce groups of your contacts. I really miss that piece of functionality.

Anyway – around that point I started thinking about how iChat could handle groups like AIM, and I starting thinking about the power of having multiple buddy lists held in multiple windows. What would it be like if your AIM contacts could be picked up and dragged between multiple iChat windows – one for your friends, one for your co-workers, one for your family etc. You’d still only have one AIM account, of course, but it would be represented differently.

Perhaps – if you didn’t like multiple windows for each semantic group – you could dock them together – producing bespoke metagroups like “Friends and Family” versus “Work”. Maybe the places where the windows fused could become handles that allowed you to resize each pane individually.

And then I started thinking about the other effects that could have – what if each window handled login information separately? What if each one used the inbuilt AIM buddy-blocking system on-the-fly so you could spontaneously decide to disappear from the world of your work colleagues while staying online with all your friends and family. Or the other way around? It’s surely just an interface tweak? What do people think?