There's this thing that happens in text messages, online chats—really, any text-based, real-time communication: the lag.
Because real-time isn't always actually real-time—or same-time, anyway—people often move through written conversations at different paces. Which means very often we end up having two or more conversations, subconversations, sidenote conversations, and so on—all on top of one another. (It happens even more frequently if you're group texting or chatting with more than one person at a time.) So sometimes people use lists to keep separate conversational tracks separate, or brackets to indicate an aside. These may not be the most elegant ways to navigate a conversation, but they mostly work.
Yet I've always wanted a chat platform that could visually represent the side conversations that spring out of a main thread. How might a "sidechat within a chat" functionality even work? What would it look like? Bolded text for one train of thought, normal for the other? Extra-tiny font for asides?
There has to be a better way.
At least, that's what Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield thinks, and Butterfield is fixated on just this sort of problem—the kind people don't even realize is a problem until they're presented with an intuitive solution. Slack, you may have heard by now, is the still-fledgling but already popular collaborative chat client that's setting out to destroy email.