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Concept for online chat 

Sometimes when I am talking with friends in person we use a concept of "the stack", like a data stack, where we digress and push new topics on the stack, then try to remember what its previous state was after popping the digression off the stack. "What were we talking about again?"

Often discussions online are in threaded form. This inverts the stack into a visible tree record, allowing digressions to split off indefinitely and never fold back into the main thread. Everything is "in reply to" something else, thus we get annoying rebuttal threads where two people who HAVE to score points go at each other for as many rounds as they can, making a diagonal streak down the page.

Sorting by time is often used instead of tree threading. In this model, which flattens time, whomever speaks most often holds the topic, and formal structuring of topic to information is limited to thread and post titles. Flattening the thread reduces direct addressing and allows for broader interjection, but also causes "forgetting" of purpose.

What if we had a concept of a stateful stack that tracks the discussion for us? That is, if we always had two columns, one for the continuation of the current and the other for pushing the digression?

Concept for online chat 

@Triplefox I'm interested in this idea… Like… I use stacks with friends IRL, too. I can't envision the UI, though. Do you have something in mind?

Concept for online chat 

@benhamill I don't know yet! The main difficulty is in deciding how synchronization takes place, I think. I do think some branching off should happen as it naturally does when the room is crowded.

It might be best to prototype this as a writing tool for one person first, just exploring the idea of stack structure. I got inspired to think about this because of how some folks have found long-lived tweetstorms appealing - essentially adding to personal stacks over time.

Concept for online chat 

@Triplefox Hmmm yeah. One thing… to a certain extent, you’d have to rely on the user(s) to notify you when they were pushing a new topic into the stack. Like, as opposed to just continuing to talk about the current topic. 🤔 There’s a friction here that I think most people would dislike. But I find the idea of, like, always exposing the top of the stack—the topic that would pop if you popped the stack—really appealing. You could hide the rest and I think that would be OK.

re: Concept for online chat 

@benhamill Yeah. A specific visualization I'm getting a bit fixated on is a two-pane log view where you always see the named topic's log on the left, while the one on the right is the one for unnamed "asides". Then the unnamed one can be promoted into the named one, at which point it's pushed to the left side, and the aside becomes a new empty chat. And then you could probably extend that feature into channel splitting where the aside becomes a different channel instead of pushing.

I'm suddenly reminded of how on IRC, at least, it's such a thing to constantly be modifying the channel title.

re: Concept for online chat 

@Triplefox @benhamill Huh, dang, I really like this idea! I think the parallel to topic-changing on IRC is a good one, too. Now I'm noodling on how one might implement a bare-bones implementation of this...

re: Concept for online chat 

@cincodenada @benhamill I am happy to hear of interest, my ideas usually get way ahead of what I can work on myself

re: Concept for online chat 

@Triplefox That sounds incredibly interesting.

Concept for online chat 

@Triplefox I'm not sure if you would consider this related to your point (ha…), but I think heavy enforcement by moderators of on topic/off topic conversation (on IRC, Reddit, Slack, etc.) can be unproductive.

People don't always know ahead of time where the conversation is going (intellectually or otherwise…) and this strict structuring, I can imagine, could lead to a general cooling of innovation and breakthroughs…

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