Fernanda Viégas
Sociable Media Group
MIT Media Laboratory

© MIT 1999-2005

enter chatroom      main page

Brief History

Chat Circles started out as a project I did for the  Virtual Society class at the MIT Media Lab back in 1998. I wanted to use graphics to reflect the dynamics of people's conversations rather than to emulate the visual reality of the world around us. This is the main reason why Chat Circles has such as minimalist, abstract user interface.

The Chat Circles user interface has inspired a series of other projects in the Sociable Media Group such as Talking in Circles,  ChatScape, and Affective Circles. The public Chat Circles site has been running since 1999. 

To learn more about my work, visit my web site here: Fernanda Viégas



The current implementation of Chat Circles is the result of several people's effort over the years in the Sociable Media Group. Here is a list of all the people who have been part of the Chat Circles team. To all of them, my many thanks!

Matthew Lee (the mastermind behind the Chat Circles software architecture)
Ethan Howe
Rodrigo Leroux
Joseph Rozier
Grace Lee

Chat Circles [pdf] [html]
Fernanda Viégas and Judith Donath. CHI 1999. 
Full paper introducing the Chat Circles system, and describing the "hearing range" metaphor and the graphical log of conversations. 

Visualizing Conversations [pdf] 
Judith Donath, Karrie Karahalios, and Fernanda Viégas. HICSS-32, 1999. 
Paper discussing the design of graphical interfaces that reveal the social structure of online conversations through visualizations. The paper focuses on two projects: Loom (a visualization of Usenet newsgroups) and Chat Circles. 

The chat circles series: explorations in designing abstract graphical communication interfaces [pdf] 
Judith Donath and Fernanda Viégas. Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2002. 
Exhibit paper discussing the series of graphical chat programs that derived from the original Chat Circles software. The paper examines the variations among the interfaces and discusses their implications for social interaction.