Maybe you saw it in one of our Bottom Up Marketing talks. Maybe it came up in a conversation with developers. Or maybe you’ve heard me or one of my colleagues prattle on about it in person or on the blogs.
No, I’m not talking about Twitter – I still haven’t quite come to terms with my unreasonable affection for that service. I’m speaking, instead, of IRC. Short for internet relay chat – according to Wikipedia – IRC is a staple of many a developer community. Or, in our case, an analyst firm focused on developer communities.
What is IRC? While it’s tempting to dismiss it as nothing more than a chat room, I think that undersells dramatically the role that IRC can play in a given community. I consider it vital enough, in fact, that I’m still mad it took us as long as it did to start our own channel. Madness. Or the Cobbler’s Kids thing – take your pick.
The value, as far as I see it anyway, is in the collection of individuals. While most of us have tools that connect individual to individual, and larger businesses often have tools that collect employees together, there aren’t all that many venues that aggregate community individuals together. IRC is one.
Each community’s IRC channel tends to be a reflection of that community, I’ve found, and as such some are friendly, open and inclusive and others…not so much. #redmonk, we hope, trends toward the former. What I find most compelling, however, is the diversity. At any given time you might find representatives from Apache, Classpath, Eclipse, Gentoo, Kaffe, or Ubuntu chatting with folks from large vendors like IBM or Sun. Politely chatting, importantly. Even on the benefits of Apache licensing versus GPL.
It’s my hope that in some fashion, #redmonk can serve a variety of communities as a neutral ground for interested vendors and communities to interact and to conduct conversations openly. While the general policy is that what happens in #redmonk stays in #redmonk, to facilitate open dialogue, it’s often useful to discuss things where a variety of interested parties can participate. We’ve floated a number of RedMonk ideas there, to our benefit.
While the medium tends to be volume sensitive, in my view, in that huge numbers of participants can make it difficult to have linear conversations, we’re certainly not at that tipping point yet with about a dozen or so regulars that hang out. In other words, if you’d like to join us, please do.
For the folks that may be complete novices to the world of IRC, I’ve got good news for you: it’s very easily grasped. Here’s how to get on to #redmonk in 5 easy steps (provided you’re using Firefox).
- Go here, download (link at the very bottom of the page) and install Chatzilla
- Restart your browser (I hate this step)
- Go to Tools: Chatzilla to launch the client
- The page that comes up should say something like “
Available networks are [dalnet, efnet, freenode...” – click on “
- That will open a tab, type “
/join #redmonk“, hit enter and voila – you’re there. You’ll see a list of who’s there on the left (I’m usually sogrady), and it works more or less like IM.