December 29, 2005

A few weeks ago, 37signals made a somewhat cryptic announcement about an upcoming product, Campfire. I shrugged and moved on... I'm generally a fan of their Basecamp product, which I've used with some small success in tracking the community internet presence I'm involved with (more success for me than as a team product, but small steps are steps nonetheless!). And I've used their Backpack product some - and expect will more for some percolating ideas. And I even went to the Rails v Django chinscratchfest recently. But I figured more news would come later, and their other announcement, for a CRMish product named Sunrise, is less interesting to me at the moment.

Then this evening I was on the train home, and the Inside the Net interview with Jason Fried came around in my @todo playlist. He discussed a bit more about Campfire, and it does sound intriguing, at least for the RTC space that I still watch. From the 50 second description Jason provides at 27:40 in, Campfire will be a lightweight RTC app, focused on group chat (ala IRC) more than on IM chat. It sounds a bit like a counterpoint to ARSC (A Really Simple Chat), which I believe is the chat tool I saw used during the SSA Happening in 2003, and documented by Cory Doctorow Clay Shirky as a tool for In Room Chat. Presumably Campfire will be Railsified and streamlined in the 37signals look and feel.

This should be interesting to watch. A solid hosted RTC system that allows for shared spaces (channels, rooms, whatever you want to call them) as well as breakout one-to-ones (privates, IM, whatever!) is a very good thing in my experience. I have some concerns about the deep viability of public hosted models versus internally hosted models (and being sometimes conservative, even about the privately hosted RTC exchanges now beginning to come online), but there's almost certainly a market, and an itch, to be met here for the small shop market. I'm now actually a bit anxious to spin it up and kick the tires, when it comes around (possibly in 1Q2005, if Jason's estimates are correct).

Aside 1: in digging up the references for this article, I note that ARSC is still in relatively active development. Interesting, indeed.

Aside 2: I saw in some researching last night PaulV is talking of taking the perplog irc bot toward a possible 2.0 release, for those old school IRC meets new school granular addressing heads out there.

Update 2006-01-23: Correction of Cory for Clay

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Posted by esinclai at December 29, 2005 10:43 PM |