Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, is an online protocol used to chat in near-realtime. IRC predates instant messaging and is particularly popular among F/OSS developers.
- it is an open protocol, and
- it is widely supported, including popular F/OSS implementations
FreeCulture.org maintains an IRC channel at #freeculture on server irc.freenode.net. Click here if you have an IRC client installed.
How to use
IRC is widely supported by many programs. Below are a few:
- IRC with Gaim - using Gaim, the cross-platform F/OSS instant messaging program.
- IRC with irssi and screen
- Colloquy for Mac OS X
- X Chat for Linux and Windows (windows version requires purchase after a fixed time of usage)
- Chatzilla, an extension for Mozilla Firefox
If your ISP attempts to block IRC, there are ways around an IRC block.
If you don't want to download anything (or are on a computer where you can't install programs), don't worry! You don't need to!
In addition to the above programs that support IRC, there are various web-based IRC portals, including http://www.acm.jhu.edu/cgi-irc/irc.cgi?chan=%23freeculture (recommended!) and  from which you can access #freeculture. In the first field, erase the default nickname and enter your name with no spaces. In the second field, make sure that irc.freenode.net (or any other subdomain of freenode.net) is the selected server. In the third field, erase the default channel and enter #freeculture. Then, press the login button. (If none of the linked portals work, search for more and try them until one works.)
This may be particularly useful if you have trouble connecting via other mechanisms or are on a shared computer.