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Peer-to-Peer by Andy Oram

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Chapter 6. Jabber: Conversational Technologies

Jeremie Miller, Jabber

Conversations are an important part of our daily lives. For most people, in fact, they are the most important way to acquire and spread knowledge during a normal working day.

Conversations provide a comfortable medium in which knowledge flows in both directions, and where contributors share an inherent context through their subjects and relationships. In addition to old forms of conversations—direct interaction and communication over the phone and in person—conversations are becoming an increasingly important part of the networked world. Witness the popularity of email, chat, and instant messaging, which enable users to increase the range and scope of their conversations to reach those that they may not have before.

Still, little attention has been paid in recent years to the popular Internet channels that most naturally support conversations. Instead, most people see the Web as the driving force, and they view it as a content delivery platform rather than as a place for exchanges among equals. The dominance of the Web has come about because it has succeeded in becoming a fundamentally unifying technology that provides access to content in all forms and formats. However, it tends toward being a traditional one-way broadcast medium, with the largest base of users being passive recipients of content.

Conversations have a stubborn way of reemerging in any human activity, however. Recently, much of the excitement and ...

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