Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Integrating chat technologies

Wouldn't it be cool if your patrons could use an IM client to chat with your web contact center software (such as the versions of eGain offered by Tutor.com and 24/7 Reference or Docutek's VRLplus)? We know huge percentage of our users are already using instant messaging, but imagine if they could add your library's chat reference service to their buddy list and then use their IM client to chat with you via your very expensive virtual reference software. Or perhaps some day they'd be able to use their text messaging abilities on their cell phones to communicate with your chat software.

I know that this kind of interoperability is probably years away, but it can't help to dream a little about it now (and agitate for it). As Aaron Schmidt noted recently, there's a coming convergence between instant messaging and cell phone text messages (SMS).

Another point of convergence I'd like to see: the ability for different proprietary chat products (such as eGain and VRLplus) to be able to talk to each other. That would mean that libraries using different software could still form coops and transfer chat sessions to each other. Although it was before my time on the Internet (I didn't really go online until 1994), it's my understanding that e-mail couldn't always be sent across different systems. Look where we are now with e-mail. Can you imagine what e-mail would be like today if a message composed in Outlook couldn't be sent to someone with a Hotmail account? I can only hope that all the different forms of chatting online move along the same path of convergence that e-mail did.


At 2:47 PM , Anonymous Allen Searls said...

I'd tend to think this is actually possible in the not-too-distant future, perhaps even using the Jabber open-source platform, which I believe is solid in terms of interoperability. I've been thinking about this more in terms of what we're doing at Wondir.com, but the idea is precisely the same. Please let me know if you come up with any ideas, and we'll do the same.




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