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A Graphical Visualization Model for Instant Messaging Conversations

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000109325D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Mar-23
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-23
Document File: 7 page(s) / 65K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Current instant messaging software, such as AOL instant messenger and Lotus SameTime, is text-based and serial in nature; each message is displayed as text and simply appended in a standard multi-line text box. Color-coding can be used to distinguish your own comments from others. This user interface model can be sufficient for simple, focused messaging sessions, but can become quite confusing when multiple parties are participating and/or when multiple topics are being discussed. A brainstorming session is one example of when the existing messaging user interface model can break down. Numerous people would be contributing ideas: you might wish to directly respond to someone's message, offer a comment indirectly related to someone's message, or break off with another separate idea. Discerning these different types of messages, and following any one train of thought is impossible with the current user interface model.

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A Graphical Visualization Model for Instant Messaging Conversations

Current instant messaging software, such as AOL instant messenger and Lotus SameTime, is text-based and serial in nature; each message is displayed as text and simply appended in a standard multi-line text box. Color-coding can be used to distinguish your own comments from others. This user interface model can be sufficient for simple, focused messaging sessions, but can become quite confusing when multiple parties are participating and/or when multiple topics are being discussed. A brainstorming session is one example of when the existing messaging user interface model can break down. Numerous people would be contributing ideas: you might wish to directly respond to someone's message, offer a comment indirectly related to someone's message, or break off with another separate idea. Discerning these different types of messages, and following any one train of thought is impossible with the current user interface model.

The current invention solves the aforementioned problem by presenting a graphical visualization of the instant messaging session that is more readily discernible and natural to users. Users can easily follow direct responses, tangential comments, and totally separate topics. The dimension of time is also implied in the visualization. This visualization can be easily implemented using current day programming techniques and standard computer displays.

For any visualization model to work in an instant messaging environment, it has to be very simple to use and to understand because of the rapid nature of instant messaging. The current invention satisfies these requirements by using simple lines and boxes to illustrate various kinds of responses to messages, new topics, and the flow of time across the message session.

Each message that is sent or received appears as a two dimensional box containing the message (see Figure 1), and is connected by a line to the message it is responding to. The sender of the message would be displayed at the top of the box ("Me" in Figure 1)

Figure 1. Message box appearance

A direct response to a message would appear immediately below that message (Figure


2).

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Figure 2. Direct response to a message.

Messages that are related or tangential to the main topic are shown adjacent to the message it is responding to (see Figure 3)

Figur...