My solution for this project was to start by building a system/platform, and discover new design possibilities by seeing how people react to it.
This is the current state of the project - director successfully receiving input from msn messenger, processing and outputting the status of the community through on-screen/projected visualisation and midi information which can be used with audiomulch software to generate a dynamic soundtrack, as was used to demonstrate the functionality in the project presentation (also the system's first test using multiple peoples input).
[I decided to use (microsoft) msn messenger as this seems to be the most commonly used messenger client among the community, although through use of multiple protocol clients such as gaim the system could potentially cater for most of the popular protocols.]
Audiomulch - receiving midi data from the director application, which is used to synthesize and manipulate sounds, as an example of how messenger activity might be represented in a space. This was chosen purely beacause of its ease of use in rapidly building a set of sound generators and processors to react to any midi input.
Initial tests in receiving messages from multiple people at the same time, and seeing how to display text over time, how to deal with longer messages, do we tag each message with a name? Seems confusing otherwise.
Some of the details in the 'control panel' at the bottom of the screen - reading the log of messenger activity to build dynamic statistics that show the current status of the messenger buddy community as a whole.
The most recent form of displaying text input - shows who sent the message (the chosen msn nickname), and indicates the order in which messages are received over time. The messages are not yet time stamped - this is something that could be added, but it is possible to see the time of the last message received on the 'control panel'.
The pictures below show some possibilities for locations within the institute building, where the system might be setup (in its current state at least).