Buddy Squares is a plugin (a program extension) for the free MSN instant messenger program Mercury Messenger. BuddySquares visualizes information about your MSN contacts on your computer desktop in real time. You can also use it as a replacement interface for chatting with your friends.
Why does it exist?
BuddySquares is the computer science master's thesis project of Matthew Critchlow, who belongs to the Social Spaces research group in the computer science department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Most instant messenger programs simply display contacts or "buddies" in a list (example from Mercury Messenger). The goal of BuddySquares is to better visualize the online social space that we all inhabit when we log into an instant messenger program. It tries to do so with a display that communicates interesting information about the user's contacts, whilst remaining visually appealing.
How does it work?
The BuddySquares display replaces the user's desktop wallpaper. It runs in the background whenever the user is logged into Mercury Messenger, continuously animating and displaying information about the user's contacts. The user can choose to either display all contacts, or just online contacts. The display is designed to be "ambient", that is, visually pleasing without being distracting. Basically, each of the user's contacts is represented as a square, and the user is a circle in the center.
I want it, can I have it?
Sure, it's free, head on over to the download section, just make sure you check out the system requirements first.
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