The first thing I saw when I sat down at my desk this morning was this email from Ray Ozzie. And then the blizzard of news stories about the launch of his product, Talko. This comes just six months after Doug Brown and I launched our reincarnation of Talkomatic, the original PLATO chat room that Ray named his product after.
David Woolley, Doug Brown
Don Bitzer, Carol Stiglic, John Hollar
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 22:20:11 -0600
David & Doug, FYI only, just now we’ve released a new communications product – something a small team and I have been working on for several years now.
Back in the day, I found talkomatic (and term-talk) to be by far the lightest-weight, most dynamic way for people and teams to communicate on PLATO. To see thoughts pop up, one character at a time, was magical.
And I don’t actually think that people understand how different it really was.
To see people backspace and retype their thoughts was more ‘naked real-time expression’ than the line-at-a-time that we’ve now grown accustomed to with messaging. You didn’t have time to think; you didn’t have time to compose your thoughts. You could see someone burst out a thought. You could see a pregnant pause during someone’s reaction. In understanding what was on the mind of the person you were talking with, it was more like real-time voice than like line-at-a-time messaging.
In building this new product it was my specific aspiration to do the same. Whereas in that era the communications platform was PLATO, in my case the platform is the phone. Whereas in that case the medium was text, in my case the medium is voice. What we’ve built is a very, very voice-centric product. I’m trying to build something that conveys emotion in a way that is completely unvarnished, in a way that can only be done in real-time.
As I did when naming Lotus Notes in ‘84, when I started to work on this project in ’11 I decided to use the name Talko as an homage to what you’d built in that era. In my own way I hoped to use it as a platform to yet again shine a light on the impact you had on me and on so many of us as users.
In any case, FWIW, thank you again for the impact your work had on all of us in that era.
Getting circular: New Yorker article about Talko that mentions this blog post