Chat Clients

See also: Chat | Clients | E-mail clients | Web browsers | Encrypted Chat Clients

Software tools that allow social interaction on the Internet and possibly the Death of Distance. They are divided into four major classes:

  1. IRC
  2. Instant Messenger
  3. Persistent Online Worlds
  4. Teleconferencing/Videoconferencing

  • Internet Relay Chat and IRC-style systems – focused more on text-only “channels” or rooms full of people to discuss a given subject from Vampires (#vampire) to software projects (#linux). While private chat is possible and you can set usernames to your “notify” list to let you know when they’re online, this is a much more everyone’s-invited style chat system. Changing your identity on IRC (/nick) is extremely easy.
Examples: IRC chat clients include mIRC for Windows and BitchX for UNIX. IRC-style chat clients include MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons, early versions of Persistent Online Worlds mentioned below) and the hundreds of rooms available on the Internet using a Web browser.
See also: Using IRC
Genesis – Everyone’s invited to IRC because not that many people are on the Internet. Topic-based.
  • Instant Messenger – focused more on localized friends and a more graphically-intensive user-interface, this more personalized chat tool usually made up of only individually accepted members. IM is best to keep in touch with close friends and, while “rooms” can be created, they are not publicly available, nor are they usually permanent like many IRC channels.
Examples: AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber, MSN Messenger, etc.
See also: Instant Messengers
Genesis – The Internet grows by leaps and bounds, some personalization desired. Friend-based.
  • Persistent Online Worlds – Also known as MMORPG: “Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games” and MMOG: “Massively Multi-player Online Games.” A very graphically-intensive chat system with an entire interactive world. These have become so popular that they have become very system-intensive and are for-pay chat clients. They are listed here because they are definitely not Instant Messengers or IRC, but allow social interaction on the Internet in an avatar-based other-world. They offer a much more in-depth version of a Pseudonym complete with costume, identity, and abilities as well as a social structure. Persistent Online Worlds have become so complex they even have their own Gross National Product that rivals that of real countries.
Examples: Everquest, Ultima Online, Anarchy Online
Genesis – The Internet continues to grow, kind of an elite club appears — an alternate world powered by a graphics card and high speed connection develops. Video game-based.
With the increase in Internet speed and bandwidth combined with increasing availability of cheap video cameras and audio tools, it has become easy to add Internet telephony and video phones to conversations.
Examples: Voice Chat with Yahoo Messenger (ZDNet), other voice chat tools
Genesis – Replacement for the telephone, cheaper long-distance, faster communication than typing, making better progress in communication than the “ma bell” system. Restores vocal tone and expression-based communication.

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