Running a newspaper’s online department offers some opportunities to try many new and interesting technologies. One that has been a constant issue however has been chat programs. They are server intensive and don’t always provide much ROI.
The ROI issue is simple. Everyone has heard of the fax machine example.. where the first fax machine was worthless but as everyone else purchased one they became more valuable. The same goes for a chat program. If one or two people are the only people on it then its worthless and never gains traction.
How do you fix this? Find a product that already has a large user base and incorporate that into your site. I’d love to see a Twitter API that allowed us to drop a live Twitter chat feed into our website. I want a full app to do more than a mashup using their search function. It would allow our readers to drop micro-bursts of information about news and information. This is an app I’d pay for from Twitter because it solves a problem and would certainly make my life easier. Better yet, if no one cares I have a small investment of money rather than a large investment in development time.