Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2017 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Using IRC (internet relay chat) at conferences, to save hashtagged tweets

About 15 years ago I was a fairly regular user of IRC, at a sort of 'advanced amateur' level on one of the several #London channels; I forget which network though. I really enjoyed it, learned quite a lot about computery stuff and enjoyed the company (both on- and offline) of the chums I met there. I don't remember suddenly stopping using it, but as soon as I got going on Twitter I was reminded of it, and of the similarities.

The main difference though is in effort in getting started - Twitter is exceptionally easy to sign up to and get going, the work comes in connecting with people. With IRC you need to download a client, set it up and join a channel. There are a few commands you need to use as well - it's not difficult but requires a smidge more effort and is a shade geekier than Twitter. I've just used freenode for the first time - it wasn't in the list of available networks so I had to work out how to add it myself, again not difficult but a slight barrier to wider use.

I know that people use IRC as a backchannel at conferences, as well as Twitter, I just don't know if people have been IRCing at any of the conferences I've been to. I'd peg the Science Online ones in London as being likely candidates, but certainly on a much smaller scale if so. Possibly there are certain types of conferences, events or sessions that use IRC - not that surprisingly the #sciencehackday event is using it. The people who whizz high altitude balloons upwards also discuss matters geeky on their freenode channel. Possibly IRC is destined to stay outside the mainstream, unless there are lots of web-based IRC clients I don't know about (familiar only with Pirch and mIRC).

When I entered the #sciencehackday channel I noticed that a bot (robot) was sending anything from Twitter containing the hashtag #scihack to the channel. I thought that was rather clever and wondered if it was something that could be used to save hashtagged tweets from a conference - a topic I've blogged on before:
Following conference hashtag tweets in real time and saving them for later

and TweetNotes - tool for archiving hashtagged tweets at events and conferences etc

I also wondered if it is as straightforward as setting up 'What The Hashtag' (wthashtag) or TwapperKeeper to record a series of tweets. Apparently setting up an IRC bot probably requires a bit of programming knowledge and I may be some time, trying to understand the suggested instructions here http://github.com/tommorris/twittertoirc

To me IRC as a backchannel is analogous to using FriendFeed - with FF it is possible to set up a room in which the search results for a hashtagged tweetstream are posted in real time and which people who are already signed up to FriendFeed can read and comment on, as well as adding their own comments (these aren't pinged back to Twitter).

In that sense IRC and FriendFeed are almost identical but the big difference is that FriendFeed seems to strip out author details meaning that you've no idea who's posted a tweet if it's come via the Twitter RSS. IRC certainly wins here, although the interface isn't quite as pretty.

I see someone else has had similarish thoughts to me:
Wanted: an IRC bot to gateway to a twitter backchannel - http://ideas.4brad.com/wanted-irc-bot-gateway-twitter-backchannel

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to @tommorris for this helpful beginners' guide - I'd forgotten all about registering a nick http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2004/08/27/irctips.html

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