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IRC, also known as Internet Relay Chat is an older method and way of collaboration it was created in 1988 with the idea of allowing people to share their thoughts openly with one another. I found this to be a very interesting concept, as many people are now working in remote locations and they don’t always have their groups or teams around them to talk about current projects that are being worked on.

I decided to take a look into what goes on inside a typical IRC conversation, so I went onto Freenodes web chat site. This allowed me to sit in on conversations about specific interest topics. The topic I chose to follow was about Ubuntu, I created a nickname titled Ubuntu_1. This name sounded fitting for joining a conversation about Ubuntu. After my nickname was created I then joined the Ubuntu chat by entering #Ubuntu into the text box on the Freenode interface screen. After the chat room loaded I began to observe the environment and the conversations that were being carried on.

I started observing the Ubuntu IRC channel at 4:38 p.m. on Thursday November 15th and observed the channel till 5:53 p.m. During my time of observing the channel, I noticed there was an enormous amount of people that were logged into the channel as well. I also noticed a few people with a plain channel name such as the one I had, this made me feel like I wasn’t the only one just sitting in on the conversation. Over the first 20 minutes or so, I noticed that there were a lot more people joining and leaving with minimal conversation going on. However, there were a few small conversations for me to follow amongst all the traffic of people joining and leaving the channel.

One conversation consisted of a main contributor who seemed to have a depth of knowledge in the field of converting audio signals from PC coding into Ubuntu coding, and someone inquiring help with this type of conversion. Another conversation was about patching updates in Ubuntu, I think I caught the tail end of this conversation as it seemed to have wrapped up a few minutes after I joined the channel.

Over the course of the hour while observing what was going on within the Ubuntu channel I noticed there was a good amount of questions being put out on the discussion board and if there was anyone watching with some sort of expertise they would step up and answer the questions that were being asked. I think this is a great tool for someone, or a group, that is trying to gather information about a specific topic, or putting information out on a channel could help other project teams within the IT industry, not just in Ubuntu but any company willing to use open source collaboration tools to gain information a lot quicker.