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Text chat
Text chat, more commonly known as instant messaging, provides instantaneous syn-
chronicity.The most popular non-commercial system is Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
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To
use instant messaging it is first necessary to install a client program which connects to
one of a number of interconnected servers. Chat systems support virtual environments
which can be configured to establish chat rooms (also called channels) around particular
topics, interests, or real and virtual groups. Chat systems can be compared to analogue
CB radio.
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In 2003-4 the most popular IRC clients are mIRC
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for Windows and Ircle
for MacOS.While the chat clients may be different, the networks to which they connect
are the same.
Designated community websites
The development of Web technologies has transplanted many BBS or IRC-type activ-
ities onto standard community Web sites, which allow people to make new connections
and expand their personal networks. Ryze, for instance, was built with the special pur-
pose of helping to create and extend business networks.The site includes private messag-
ing facilities, an events calendar, a message board, home pages and profiles, and a contact
management system. Ryze supports over 150 networks with very different sizes and
communication intensities; and while some networks have hundreds of posts in a week,
others have none. For example, an average of just over two posted messages per network
member were published in one week within Ryze's 500 Citizens of the World network,
while for other networks the ratio was more like one message per twenty members.
Weblogs (Blogs)
A blog is a Web page containing short and frequently updated posts arranged in
chronological order, and which appears similar to a diary or journal. As with bulletin
boards, the topics and purposes vary according to the blogger's aims. Blogs have become
popular for various professional groups exchanging messages.They can offer news and
software demonstrations.The Northern California DigiBarn Computer Museum uses
a blog to post computer-related announcements and questions/answers.
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The basic
advantage of a blog is that it allows all interested parties to keep abreast of what is going
on. Some groups use blogs as a place for posting questions and collecting feedback from
the user community, while others post newsworthy articles or links, or a mixture of both
approaches.
To create a weblog, one can use the Blogger Web site, which provides a way of
automating and speeding up the publishing process without the need to write specialised
code or install server software or scripts.
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The process of posting messages is achieved by
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
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265 An IRC help page can be found at http://www.irchelp.org
266 A two way, person-to-person licence-free communication system allowed for use in non-commercial
communications when distances are limited.
267 http://www.mirc.com/mirc.html
268 http://www.digibarn.com; blog http://www.digibarn.com/weblog/blogger1.html.
269 http://www.blogger.com/. Of course, primitive blogs can be hand coded in HTML, but this is very time-
consuming and potentially error-prone.
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