Does the world really need another internet chat room?
Fair question. But what about a chat room that’s fundamentally different from every other chat room in existence?
On March 22, Doug Brown and I opened up Talkomatic after several months of work. What distinguishes Talkomatic from the chat rooms you’ve seen before is that each person has their own section of the chat room screen, and you see their messages appear letter-by-letter as they type.
Here’s what it looks like:
…Except that this is just a snapshot of a moving target. Seeing people’s typing as it happens turns online chat into a living conversation – so much more immediate – and intimate – than other online chats, or texting, for that matter. It’s not:
Type, type, type, erase mistake, retype, type, press Send.
Wait… wait… wait… check Facebook… wait…
*Bing* Reply appears!
The immediacy of seeing messages appear as they’re typed, and being able to type at the same time as everyone else in the room, makes it a lot more like being in a face-to-face conversation.
Doug and I originally created Talkomatic on the PLATO system more than 40 years ago, in 1973. Here’s how it looked back then:
Talkomatic was actually the world’s first multi-user chat room, and it was terrifically popular.
Why revive it now? Well, for fun, mainly. It’s fun to chat with people this way. For Doug and me, it’s fun to work together again. And it’s really fun to build something that’s this much fun to use.
We haven’t yet implemented all of the features that the original Talkomatic had. In the original, you could protect a channel (read: room) so that other people had to request entrance. Or you could lock it so you could chat in private and not be bothered by others trying to get in. And if a channel was full, you could watch the conversation in monitor mode (until someone protected the channel and kicked you out.) Those features, or something like them, will be coming, I expect. Maybe we’ll add a way for people to permanently register Talkomatic user names, so you can be more assured of who you’re actually chatting with. Maybe there will be an option to record a transcript of your own typing. So many possibilities.
But for now, I’m enjoying the simplicity.
You can experience Talkomatic yourself at talko.cc