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Evolution of forums...

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This is a bit of a thought experiment. The concept behind forums is very old - if you look at it from an electronic standpoint it's been here for almost thirty years. Over time though, the execution of this basic idea has evolved. Just log on to a BBS via telnet to see how far we've come today, with forums like IPB. Now IPB itself has slightly evolved over the years. It's more streamlined now thanks to AJAX, but at it's core it's very similar to the first web-based forums.

Now my question for you is this: how could we improve this medium? That is to say, on a fundamental level, how can we improve on the notion of Internet-based discussion boards. What does the future hold, and what can we do to get there. I'm thinking this could potentially be a fun project, if the ideas make it good enough to be turned into one. A kind of collaboration between all our members.

There's a few basic questions here, such as how much a forum should encompass. Should we integrate galleries and social interactions, which is what Invision seems to have in mind as the future? Should it be cordonned off from that but at the same time have extentions for seamless integration into the likes of Facebook? Another question: is video the future? I personally am thinking not. I think that the written form is in no danger here, no less because seeing some of our mugs might be a downright traumatic experience.

Throwing out ideas here. Share your thoughts. How do you think forums should evolve?

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Forums seem to evolve with technology, not before it. To try to find its future I really think we just need to watch what direction the Internet is taking and apply forums into that aspect. Given that, it seems the future is portable; how that applies to forums I do not know.

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At its purest, a forum is a place to discuss things. Forget about topics and threads, look to something a little more ad-hoc. Say I write something on the forum. There's just one form to do this, I don't select a forum to even reply to a thread. From the keywords that I use (and more advanced algorithms that match multiple keywords to define a concept) and maybe a few special "commands" (like with flicker) that will help the algorithms along, the forum software build clouds and streams. Clouds are people talking about similar thing, and are presented something like a tag cloud. Streams are people talking about the same thing arranged in chronological order.

Hope that was clear, just thought I'd share my thought of "emergent forums." This also fits quite nicely with info-anarchy and the wiki-style sites. No one defines any structure at all, that emerges completely from how the users use the system. Moderators keep it clean, and maybe shape (prune, bend, not force or fence) the structure of the keywords, giving them more weight. But in the end, it's the users that ultimately decide what the forum is and what they want to talk about.

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Although I don't have much to add I just thought I'd agree with the video comment. I at first thought 'oooh video'. But that clearly is NOT an option :P

I agree with portability, although I don't use it myself. And don't see how it could be implemented in any decent way. This forum is portable so long as I have my laptop and a signal.

No offence, I think forums act how they're meant to currently. Some things I'd change, but that's about a particular forum, not about the way they function in general.

Just an idea to put out there, not necessarily any good to follow, but there has always been this tree structure. Topic to Topic to Topic to Thread to Post. It's like a web, no bad thing, but it's easy to get lost. There could be another, more intuitive, way of organising the threads and posts that there are.

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I have always thought that forums could do with a better rating/interaction system. At the moment we read something and rate the topic. But who is to say my opinion on a matter I have just googled is equalled to someone more experienced e.g Ohm, Mirrorshades, Stank etc. I believe that the more experienced and learned members of any forum should have some weight over other's contributions. I know everyone has the right to free speech but I believe the main point of a forum is learning. Those who teach the most should have the most clout. I would happily read a forum where the replies to a question come automatically in order of relevance and stature, rather than who posted first.

Just my two pennies.

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I think that the evolution of the digital forum has already happened with social networking. It just doesn't seem like the forums of old because of mass adoption, and commercial influence.

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I always think of a cool integrated type of forum, where it's more like a culmination of different forums in one. A kind of forum where you can kind of dive between different systems. People play lots of online games, and there could be a sort of message board inside the game itself that also interacts with the outside world. I also think it cool if I were able to connect to say, a friends computer from the permissions he gave me online specified in a post he made - so the friend wouldn't even have to be anywhere near. And just to piggyback Ohm to say if you added the cloud then you get a clear realtime view of what's going on.

Edited by adios
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