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IRC: #joiito Channel Revival (Or At Least Reunion) [en]

IRC: #joiito Channel Revival (Or At Least Reunion) [en]

[fr] Le retour du canal IRC #joiito, et quelques pensées sur ce qui différencie Twitter et Facebook (même les groupes) d'un canal IRC comme celui-ci.

So, let me tell you what happened last night. You know I’ve been reading Here Comes Everybody, right? Well, in chapter 9, Clay Shirky tells the story of #joiito — Joi Ito‘s IRC channel, that I was a regular of for years since sometime in 2003 or 2004, until Twitter emptied the channel of most of its life. Reading about it in Clay’s book reminded me what a special thing it was.

Last night, I saw that my old friend Kevin Marks was online on Facebook. Unless I’m very mistaken, Kevin is one of the numerous friends I made on #joiito, and we hadn’t chatted in ages. I wanted to tell him about my Blogging Tribe experiment, see if he was interested. We started joking about the old times (OMG Technorati!), I mentioned my reading Here Comes Everybody, the mention of #joiito, he pointed me to his blog post clarifying Jeannie Cool’s role in the channel (seems Clay had got the story wrong in the first edition of his book), which brought me to another post of Kevin’s on the bots we had running in #joiito, and on an impulse, I went to check out the channel.

Now over the last years, I’ve pretty much always been logged in to #joiito (I run irssi in screen on my server). But I stopped going. Like many others it seems, over the years Twitter became my “replacement” for IRC. I guess we all logged in less and less, and the channel population and conversation dropped below the critical mass it needed to stay truly alive. The community disbanded.

The channel never truly died, of course. There were always some of us sitting in there, and there would be sudden flare-ups of activity. But the old spirit had left the room.

Kevin followed me in, started fiddling with the bots, I found an old abandoned #joiito Facebook group. Created back in 2007, it was clearly an “old-style” Facebook group (they sucked) that was migrated to new style and emptied automatically of its members. There were three members, I invited myself in, invited a bunch of other #joiito old hands, and started pinging people to get them to drop into the channel.

In less than an hour we had a lively conversation going on in #joiito. I stayed on for a few hours, then went to bed. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to discover close to 60 people in the Facebook group, and that the conversation on #joiito had gone on all my night, with “new old channel regulars” joining! It feels just like the old days. Seriously. It makes me very happy, because I think this IRC channel was really something precious, and I was sad it was “no more”. (Quotes because obviously, the channel never disappeared… it just died down.)

I haven’t had an IRC conversation like this in years. I’ve been very active on Twitter (slightly less now), am very active on Facebook, and really love Facebook groups. But an IRC channel like #joiito is something different.

When I asked my old friends what had “replaced” #joiito in their current online ecosystem, the general response seems to be “Twitter”, clearly. But what is missing with Twitter and Facebook (and even Path) that we are so happy to see our channel alive again?

Twitter and Facebook are centred on the network, not on the group. We are loosely joined to each other on Twitter just like we are loosely joined on IRC (I definitely am not “close” to all the channel regulars — more on that too in a bit), but the container is way bigger. On Twitter, our networks sprawl and spread until we end up (some of us) with thousands of followers. This is very different than an enclosed chatroom with less than 100 people in it.

Once we started spending more time on Twitter and Facebook, we stopped being part of the same group. We got lost in our own networks of friends, acquaintances, and contacts.

Facebook groups bring back this “community” aspect. But interaction and conversation in Facebook groups, which are built upon a message-board model, is much slower than in IRC. There is less fluff, less joking, less playing around. It’s not real-time chatting, it’s endless commenting. We’ve touted Twitter and Facebook so much as being “real-time” that we’ve forgotten where the real “real-time” is: in chatting.

IM, Facebook, and Twitter allow people to keep in touch. I’m connected to a large handful of #joiito regulars on Facebook — people I used to exchange with daily during the Golden Days. But on Facebook, we don’t talk. Our relationship is not one of one-to-one chats. Our lives on Facebook our different enough that they don’t bring us closer, but make us drift apart. We are missing our hang-out place.

You’ve seen that play out offline, certainly. You leave a club you were part of or a job. There are many people there whom you appreciate or even love, but you do not stay in touch. Once the common activity or place that brought you together in the first place is gone, there is not enough left to keep you together.

Twitter and Facebook are more lonely places to hang out online than an IRC channel, because nobody shares the same experience as you. We all have a different Twitter, a different Facebook. In an IRC channel, we all have the same lines of text scrolling before our eyes.

Is this just a reunion, or is this the revival of the #joiito IRC channel?

Only time will tell. I personally hope for a revival. I missed you guys.

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Surprise Meet-Up Last Night [en]

Surprise Meet-Up Last Night [en]

[fr] Une rencontre totalement imprévue avec un pote d'IRC qui était à Lausanne pour la semaine. Je l'ai appris par hasard la veille de son départ -- du coup, on est allés faire un tour en ville!

So, last night, before [the sad news hit me](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/09/17/rob-levin-lilo-of-freenode-just-died/), I was just hanging out online while [digging through the bottom of my GTD inbox](http://steph.wordpress.com/2006/09/17/inbox-empty/) when I was drawn into #[swhack](http://swhack.com/) by a highlight. (If you don’t live on IRC, you probably don’t understand what I’m talking about — don’t fret.) Usually, highlights in #swhack mean the bots are getting chatty, but anyway, I peeked in. An irrelevant mention of Bugs Bunny (now you can guess what I highlight on) was all it was, but as the channel seemed alive for once, I stayed to exchange a few words with those who were there.

The conversation topic quickly drifted to Switzerland, and for some reason I didn’t quite grasp straight away, people were suddenly very interested in the fact that I was in Switzerland, and, more than that, in Lausanne.

A few lines later the penny dropped, and I realised that [crschmidt](http://crschmidt.livejournal.com/) was chatting with me through the free wifi provided by my hometown! He had been here all week for the [FOSS4G conference](http://www.foss4g2006.org/). He works for [MetaCarta](http://www.metacarta.com/), who were [sending him there](http://crschmidt.net/blog/archives/172/foss4g-reports/).

Half an hour and a park name confusion (my mistake) later, we were meeting up in Parc Montbenon. We went out for a drink, a stroll in the Roman ruins and a short photo session by the lake. We talked about History classes in Switzerland and the States, looked at satellite maps of Lausanne (blurry) and Geneva (I got to see the building the [coComment](http://cocomment.com) offices are in!), and all sorts of other things that add up to enjoyable conversation without having to be blog material.

Before I knew it we had chatted away until past 1am and my tiredness reminded me that I had planned to go to bed early. But nevermind! It was worth it, nice to be able to meet Chris before he left this morning. Hope you had a safe trip home!

Chris and Steph in Vidy
Proof of meet-up!

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Rob Levin (lilo) of Freenode Just Died [en]

Rob Levin (lilo) of Freenode Just Died [en]

[fr] Rob Levin, fondateur du réseau IRC freenode (plus connu sous son pseudo lilo) est mort des suites d'un accident de la route.

I’ve just received [news of Rob Levin’s death (lilo on freenode)](http://www.chatmag.com/news/091606_rob_levin.html) when logging on after coming back home from a surprise evening I’ll tell you about later, given the circumstances. Needless to say I’m pretty shaken.

I’d never actually met Rob, of course. But I remember many conversations with him on freenode — about nickname issues, about [freenode](http://freenode.net/ “The IRC network which is my main online residence.”) and the underlying concept of community it was built on, about leaving New Orleans before Katrina arrived. He was somebody I always enjoyed chatting with, and I was always amazed at how he would take time for small issues like my nickname problems. He struck me as nice, patient and understanding for the little I knew him.

As [founder of freenode](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Levin), he was of course an important person to me. Freenode is a place which lies at the center of my online social life. But more than that to me, he was also simply a person I chatted with every now and again and really appreciated. I’m going to miss him.

I’m doing something I usually tell people not to do: publish stuff when emotions are fresh. My excuses therefore, if I sound a bit rambling or whatever — but there’s just no way I can just head for bed right now as I was planning to do when I got home. Hopefully writing this here will help me accept what has happened and feel a little less sick.

Bye, lilo. My thoughts are with your family and friends. You will be very much missed.

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