Multichat: Persistent, Text-As-You-Type Messaging in a Web Browser for Fluid Multi-Person Interaction and Collaboration
Proceedings of the 39th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS'06)
To facilitate face to face conversation between deaf and hearing participants, we created a cross-platform, browserbased, persistent text-as-you-type system that aggregates each individual's utterances in revisable personal notes on a userconfigurable multi-person workspace in a common web browser. The system increases the fluidity of real time interaction, makes it easier to keep track of an individual's contributions over time, and allows users to format their contributions and customize
... displays. Because the system affords "full duplex" parallel communication in a web browser, it supports new patterns of interaction and new possibilities for dynamic browser-based visual representations of temporal patterns of communication. Furthermore, the near-real-time-architectures we are exploring seem to open the way to a family of centralized and peer-to-peer persistent conversation applications such as realtime wikis, collaborative web design systems, collaborative websurfing applications, and an in-class discussion systems. Because Rochester Institute of Technology is home to the National Technical Institute of the Deaf, deaf and hearing students often find themselves working in small project-oriented groups. In addition, numerous faculty, students and support staff including interpreters are fluent in both sign and speech, and often mix modes of communication to adapt to various situations. The campus thus provides a natural laboratory for studying communication and conversation patterns under the constraints and affordances of numerous situations and communication options.