Thursday, October 08, 2020

[Guest Post] New on BackRe(action): Real-Time Chat Rooms

[This post is written by Ben Alderoty.]

For those who’ve been keeping tabs, my team and I have been working with Sabine since earlier this year to give commenters on her site more ways to talk. Based on your feedback, we’re launching a new way to make that happen: real-time chat rooms. Here’s how they’ll work.



Chat rooms (chats) live in the bottom right corner of the blog. For the time being, they are only available on Desktop with support for mobile devices to come soon. Unlike traditional, always-available chat rooms, chats on BackRe(action) happen at scheduled times. This ensures people will be there at the same time as you and the conversation can happen in real-time. Chats start at their scheduled times and end when everyone has left.



You’ll see the first couple of chats have already been scheduled when you open the app. The topic for these chats is Sabine’s upcoming post on free will she is releasing on Saturday. If you’re interested in attending, you can set up a reminder by clicking ‘Remind me’ and selecting either Email or Calendar. You can also share links to the chat by clicking the icon next to the chat name. We’ll be trying out different topics and times for chats based on feedback we receive. 


 

The chats themselves happen right here on BackRe(action). You won’t need an account to participate, just a name (real, fake, pseudonym… anything works). Depending on how many people join, the group may be split into separate rooms to allow for better discussion. Chats will remain open for late joiners as long as there’s an active discussion taking place. Spectators are welcome too! All of the messages will disappear when the chat ends, so you’ll have to be there to see what’s said.

As a reminder, the first two chats are happening on:

Chat #1 - Sunday, October 11 @ 9 AM PST / 12PM EST / 6PM CEST
Chat #2 - Tuesday, October 13 @ 9 AM PST / 12PM EST / 6PM CEST

Come to one or come to both! New chats will be up mid-next week for the week after.

So, what do you think? Are you ready for chat rooms on BackRe(action)? What topics do you want to talk about? Let us know what you think in the comments section or in the app via the ‘Give Feedback’ button below the chats.

19 comments:

  1. I can be there for a time. I need to pull the header on a car, so I may not be there long.

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  2. It would be nice if we could be reminded by email AND add it to our calendar.

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    1. That's a great idea. We can add this feature for you Paul. We'll have it ready for next weeks chats.

      We'll make it so you'll be able to click the '✓ Reminder Set' confirmation button to trigger the prompt to set more reminder's.

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  3. "PST" is confusing. Do you really mean PST? Or PDT?

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    1. Sorry about this Sergei - looks like a bug. It is PDT or GMT-7 like Gus said. We'll look into getting this fixed to be more accurate.

      In general, the chats will start at the time shown for where you are located. We just added the time zone to try to make that extra clear, but it looks like you've pointed out a bug in how we're displaying the time zones that makes it more confusing, not more clear :/

      Thanks for letting us know.

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  4. Typical, I don't have a desktop and this is one of my favourite subjects.

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    1. Hi Gus, sorry to hear about this. We had planned to have chats working on mobile for Sunday's chat, but ran into some issues with the Blogger platform.

      Would you mind sending me an email at ben@conversful.com so I can let you know when we have support for mobile devices so you can join in? Hopefully we'll have it resolved for next week's chats.

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  5. Good news Gus! If you click any of the chat links, we've now made them work on BackReaction by forcing the Desktop site to open. This makes the experience a bit wonky, but if you zoom in it will allow you to participate just fine. One tip would be to use the 'Return' or '⮐' key to send messages instead of using the button in the UI.

    Here's the chat for Sunday you can use: https://talk.conversful.com/c?id=-MJ2UTdHi_VdW63Er-Sw

    Hope to see you there!

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  6. Ben, this is a great idea. I'll be there for both sessions. And while I am deeply respectful of Sabine's position on free will, I am also at the opposite end of the free will spectrum. :) This should be a fun!

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  7. In biology we are inclined to think that 'free will' is just a concept we us because we don't know enough biology yet (Paul Sapolski is an easily accessible example). My own outline of this is that the mess we are in has a great deal to do with habits and thinking based in pre-science, which is where the vast majority of humans still live. 17th century philosophers imagined a space of language in which we could work out complex social problems with a pencil as though we were doing maths (Leibniz). Sadly, the practice of human argument gets nowhere near this inspirational concept - just think Trump - Biden. In science there is at least some requirement to state your facts in a reviewable culture, including Sabine's welcome 'but this is shit'interventions. Human argument takes place in evolutionary-lifetime biology (physical) conditions. Concepts like free-will and free-speech look and feel very different once enough science is solidified in a head. I incline to incredulity towards the import of such terms into science from Bildung that I'm inclined to think Buldung. We need to imagine wide social discussion using science to discover just what we are not free of. One problem is we have no shortage of "experts" prepared to opine on this who have been turning over the same largely failed material for millennia. To cut the story short, I suggest we have no clue on free-will because the term has mirriad meaning subject to common assumption paradigms. In biology, we wouldn't even consider a free-will of on individual human being without wondering whether this was the individual to consider - we usually go with populations. "Individuality" becomes stochastic fluctuation. The facts of what a human is when claiming to operate free-will are barely in everyday discourse or ancient natural philosophy practised still. My guess is free-will is a blind alley.

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  8. Sounds good. My only comment thus far is that the black bar saying, "Upcoming Chats," located lower right, is way too big and distracting.

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    1. You're right - we are making the 'Upcoming Chats' button a lot smaller now.

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  9. I joined the chat yesterday evening (CEST). I had the feeling to enter a room with 15 people and 4 to 5 were talking at the same time. This is in my view not the way to discuss a serious topic. But maybe this is anyway not the aim.

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    1. Hi Henning, I saw your message in the chat yesterday & appreciate you following up here. You are certainly right that it was too chaotic yesterday and difficult for many to speak.

      The aim of the app IS a place to have serious conversations. We will be limiting room sizes to 10 from now on to make this more likely. Multiple rooms will be created if more than 10 people are trying to chat at the same time. If this turns out to still be too much, we may lower the number again.

      May you please email me at ben@conversful.com so I can ask you some additional questions? I believe your perspective is a very important one.

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  10. To argue against free will is the Lutherian mission. I think as physicists we have to say we don't know if the universe can self-interact so that it's like free will.

    After last arguings I'm even more convinced that quantum events are not fundamentally random - they aren't random at all. Quantum mechanism seems to be only statistics about (super)deterministic background.

    Is it a special purpose to move all comments to the chat? It doesn't work on Android...

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    1. Hi Eusa, we had some problems with the links yesterday unfortunately, but they should be working better now and accessible on all platforms. Albeit, the experience on mobile isn't great, but it does work. Please email me at ben@conversful.com if you can't get it to work on your Android device and we will get it fixed for you.

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  11. I found it very difficult to use the online chats. My browser (Chrome) wouldn't allow me leave the scroll bar in one place to finish reading a comment. And, because many people were commenting at the same time, it was difficult to respond in any coherent way to the different points being made. Mostly I was disappointed. Static comments allow me read, absorb, and reply at my liesure.

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  12. I might be able to participate in today's chatting for an hour or at least half hour.

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