Constructing a Better Chat Metaphor

The established metaphor for chat applications is a conversation. Unfortunately, that metaphor is wrecked the moment you enter a room with a bunch of users...with people speaking on top of each other and jumping in and out of conversations. It's like a crowded party with everyone screaming to someone across the room.

A better metaphor for chat applications would be a symphony. When you step into the chat room, you immediately become a listener, visually looking at different conversations playing out around the screen. Conversations would be grouped together based on time, topics, and writers. At that point you could choose to become a participant, focusing in on different blocks of conversation to close off the noise...or taking in everything at once.

The main thing that these symphonies are missing is the conductor. Telling certain parts to pick up the pace and work together, while telling other parts to quite down or change. The process needs to be organized into a whole.