IRC (original code was written by Jarkko Oikarinen) is a multi-user, multi-channel chatting network. It allows people all over the internet to talk to one another in real-time. It is a functional replacement and improvement to 'talk'; 'talk' is an old, primitive, atrocious, minimalist sort of keyboard/screen conversation tool, using a grotesque, machine- dependent protocol (blah!). IRC does everything 'talk' does, but with better protocol, allowing more than 2 users to talk at once, with access across the aggregate Internet, and providing a whole raft of other useful features.
IRC is based on a client-server model. Clients are programs that connect to a server, a server is a program that transports data, (messages), from a user client to another. There are clients running on many different systems, (Unix, emacs, VMS, MSDOS, VM...), that allow you to connect to an IRC server. The client which will be spoken of here is the most widespread: ircII, (originally designed by Michael Sandrof). Other clients are similar, and often accept ircII commands.
On IRC, there are a lot of places where you can "hang out"; those places are called 'channels', (most of the information in this section can also be obtained by issuing "/HELP CHANNEL"). You can compare conversations on a channel to a conversation among a group of people: you see/hear everything that is said, and you can reply to anything that's said. What you type is received by everyone who's willing to listen - and everyone who is late will not hear what was said before, unless repeated by one of the ones who were there. (Who said "real life" ?)
Friday, September 14, 2007
This is probably old news but it was new to me, so IRC seems worth a mention. It's apparently something like IM. Here's what the IRC Primer, found on Code4Lib has to say: