I recently saw presentation of Parlano MindAlign for Microsoft Live Communication Server instant messaging platform.
I enjoy using IM, IRC and enterprise group chats for many years. I use them for person to person communications, for getting and providing quick answers from/to peers, for notifications about important events. MindAlign introduces new trend, I think: real-time subject centric communication. MindAlign smart client allows to manage effectively and participate in hundreds of subject centric channels at the same time. It also allows to see history of all conversations and search message archives. All these features are not new. But effective support of hundreds of channels on the client side changes rules of the game and moves group chats to a new level.
There is something extremely powerful in combination of real-time subject centric communication, ability to access message history and search. I think that this kind of system can replace about 80% of emails in the future.
What is the next step? We can connect channel topics with topic map and allow users to reference subtopics in real time conversation using analog of WikiWords. In this case we have a topic map which is modified by users in real-time. This topic map has references to group chat messages. But as any other topic map it also can have information about associations between topics and references to other resources.
We can add ability for users to provide Wiki-like occurrences in this topic map and ability to add links to resources (analog of social bookmark manager del.icio.us ).
Result – live topic map which integrates summary information about subjects, associations between subjects, real-time messages and links to resources connected with subjects.