I’m building a custom pleroma client so that my friends and I can have a cute, self-hosted social network to post about politics and art. Besides being much more visually interesting than our facebook messenger groupchat, e-worm also attempts to solve design problems around conversational, collaborative thinking. The biggest of these problems is the inherent ephemerality of our groupchat— it doesn’t really succeed as a collaborative thinking space because it has no long-term memory. When messages are constantly buried under new ones, it places the burden on us to remember previous conversations. So the ultimate design goal for e-worm is to create a self-archiving conversational interface that preserves thought and helps us keep thinking new things rather than going in intellectual circles.
One idea I’m testing is emphasizing threads in the UI to force us to delineate our conversations rather than having an unparseable monolithic stream of consciousness (as in our current groupchat). These threads currently have top-level tags that are chosen from a few preset options when the first post is added. No one has really been making use of these, so I’m in the process of testing out other options.
I also plan to add an ‘export to are.na’ button on each thread that will create a channel from the thread with each message as a ‘block’. Higher level channels will categorize these ‘thread’ channels by subject. I chose are.na because its interface encourages a sort of public digital memory that I haven’t found with any other software. Are.na itself doesn’t have the conversational UI that I think is necessary for a real-time collaborative thinking tool— it’s interface is more about discovering and connecting than communicating directly. I’m still sketching out ideas for how to better tie these two interfaces (e-worm conversation and are.na archive) into one.
The UI is completely navigable by keyboard shortcuts, which can be viewed by holding down the ‘control’ key.