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Role Oriented Connections for Instant Messaging

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015966D
Original Publication Date: 2002-May-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
Document File: 3 page(s) / 54K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Instant Messaging is a technology that allows users on a given Instant Messaging network to select another user (from some list) and initiate a conversation with them. The conversation is typically embodied as an exchange of lines of text between client programs on the users' machines. It is possible to conduct an n-way conversation by inviting more than one person into the 'chat'.

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Role Oriented Connections for Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging is a technology that allows users on a given Instant Messaging network to select another user (from some list) and initiate a conversation with them. The conversation is typically embodied as an exchange of lines of text between client programs on the users' machines. It is possible to conduct an n-way conversation by inviting more than one person into the 'chat'.

    Consider the steps a user takes to instigate an Instant Messaging conversation in the current scheme:
1) Determine the name of a participant in the conversation
2) Look up their instant messaging address (in a directory or a 'buddy' list, etc)
3) Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each additional participant
4) Provide the list produced by steps 1-3 to the instant messaging client
5) When the meeting is quorate, engage in conversation. The problem this submission addresses is: "How can we adapt this Instant Messaging connection paradigm to scenarios where step 1) is inappropriate?" That is: there are many applications where the roles of the participants are more important than the names of the participants. As a corollary, I will show that the answer to this question also provides a significant simplification to the original name-based connection sequence.

    An example of the problem being addressed can be observed in in the context of a software development laboratory. Consider the scene where a project leader or manager wishes to speak to all interested parties in a pressing problem (perhaps a program defect). Asking the IM server to arrange a chat with all these people (via a lookup in the defect tracking database, for example) would be far simpler and more reliable than adding each person to the list by hand (which would also include the risk of omitting 'peripheral' people, etc). Indeed, many tracking systems allow users to register themselves as 'interested parties' in a given issue. When ad-hoc meetings are setup, such lists are usually overlooked and those people are neglected. By linking the meeting information with the underlying databases, problems of this sort can be reduced.

    In many industries, employees in urgent customer-facing roles often need to speak to an expert who is knowledgeable in their area of concern. They don't care who they get; they just want somebody who can answer their pressing query. The number of steps (and hence time) taken to identify and contact a suitable person can be a vital consideration. Furthermore, the accuracy of the data upon which contact decisions are made has to be reliable.

    This article details a scheme whereby 'role lists' can be created and maintained by the people to whom they refer and describes a 'programmable indirection' layer for IM connections that allows an instant messaging application server to seamlessly perform directory and connection services.

Step 1: Create a database table (Imtable) with columns including Instant Messaging identifier (Imid) and 'role' (IMr...