Chatting in the page

One requirement that services like PalTalk – VoIP that integrates directly with social networking sites, among others – raise is for more real-time interactivity actually embedded within web pages.

Text chat has existed forever, but sometimes it’s handy to be able to call or even videoconference with people; I’m happy communicating in writing, as are most bloggers, but I think a lot of people are much more comfortable having a chat as they would on the phone.

What would be particularly handy is something that works through Flash or Shockwave; I’m not comfortable with the ubiquity of that plugin, but the fact that most people have it means that participation would be possible without the user having to install any particular software. This is how Breeze works; I wonder how hard it would be to use those technologies but attach them to a peer-to-peer network?

There is a particular benefit with the Skype network, and others that can talk to real-life phones. An Elgg plugin might, for example, allow for ‘contact me’ boxes to be attached to profile items; I could set the access restriction for my cellphone to a certain subset of my friends, and suddenly they’d be able to give me a ring just by visiting my profile. I could make my general Skype contact more widely available, and so on.






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