Reflecting on the design choices of communication software

Some time ago I came across a comic that explored some considerations for chat applications and I have been having trouble relocating it. I am sure anyone who has seen it will remember it. Let me know if any of this rings a bell.

Some details I remember:

  • It was quite long, several pages.
  • It was well polished both aesthetically and in the concepts it explored and how they were explored.
  • One topic it covered was the flow of conversation over time and its implication on the layout of the UI and the way the conversation is displayed (such as replying to a particular message).
  • A good bit of the message bubbles were blue pink (maybe with gradients).
  • I believe it was created by an individual who hadn’t yet built a platform based on their ideas (respondents were urging them to make something and expressing eagerness).

Otherwise if other resources on the subject of chat and discussion software come to mind I’d love to check those out as well.


I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to achieve, but we have this Effectively using Discourse together with group chat


Yes, can you please elaborate on your goals? I’m not sure this particular topic belongs on meta, otherwise…

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@HAWK This is great thanks.

@codinghorror The web posting I am trying to describe (which I read within the last year or so, but havn’t been able to relocate), explores some considerations for communication software, walking through some of the implications of different design choices etc. It was very well made and stood out from any other material I had seen, so I felt confident that others have come across it and would remember it if so. I was hoping if someone did recognize the source I was describing they could connect me with it.

I thought the community around discourse would be a relevant place to reach out to about it because it deals the subject of communication software design and the community is made up of people running and working on Discourse (being a communication tool with plenty of understanding and intention put into it’s design). I put it in uncategorized because I thought it didn’t fit in the other categories.

Then at the same time, I have been reflecting on the design choices of communication software and would welcome any resources such as the post that @HAWK shared, books, articles, videos, etc, that others found useful and meaningful in thinking about the subject.

I also thought that the resource I’m trying to describe might have been extremely well known, like if someone says “I’m looking for these stick figures I saw that were making programming jokes.” and despite the loose description they would be quickly connected with xkcd.


Well now I’m curious about this comic, it sounds really interesting! But I don’t recall anything like that being popular recently on social media. It is not ringing any bells for me. Perhaps you can dig deeper? Do you have any other information about it?


:laughing: Hmm, I think that I ran across it after bumping into Nicky Case’s work, such as the game exploring trust. Seeing one of Nicky’s talks had me interested in systems thinking, and I believe one thing led me to another which led me to the comic in question (or the other way around). This would have been closer to a year ago than not.

The style was kind of like using communication UIs to explore them at a conceptual and design level, sort of like Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. Though I don’t remember if it had a character walking throughout.

But it showed some examples of how different use cases were addressed in communication systems and raised questions about if they were done another way, and some considerations that might arise from that.

I think I may have left with the impression that the author may have been toward the beginning part of their career or the end of tertiary schooling and engaged in related research.

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Does Nicky remember it if you ask him via Twitter?

Is it by any chance this piece “Chatting With Glue” by Max Krieger?


@bts Haha, yes this is it! Thanks so much!

@codinghorror This is what I was looking for, thanks for the support! I hope you enjoy it, looking at it again it really has some excellent reflections!


Wow great work @bts, I’ve never seen or heard of this… ever.