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BuddySpace is an open source instant messenger developed by The Open University in 2002. The project's principal investigator was Marc Eisenstadt and the lead programmer was Jiri Komzak. [1] Its aim was to provide enhanced capabilities for users to manage and visualize the presence of colleagues and friends in collaborative working, gaming, messaging, and other contexts. The difference between BuddySpace and other instant messaging platforms of its time was that it allowed for optional maps for geographical and office-plan visualization in addition to the standard “buddy list”. That, and its idea of ‘pushed presence’[2]. This was meant to go beyond the standard online statuses such as online, offline, or away and provide a blend of attributes that could be used to characterize an individual's physical or spatial location, work trajectory, time frame of reference, mental mood, goals, or even intentions[3]. It was also built on top of an existing instant messenger called Jabber making it inter-operable with the popular instant messaging platforms of the time such as ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo. And it was executed in Java making it cross-platform which was done so the service community wouldn't be restricted to just Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop users, but so the program could be used on PDAs and mobile devices. It was originally implemented by The Open University to establish the synchronous presence of peer-group members to enhance the emotional well-being of isolated learners and improve problem solving performance and learning. It allowed students to work cooperatively and simultaneously on the same coursework and see what their fellow colleagues were doing [4].

In 2004 BuddySpace was part of a software package the Open University supplied to NASA’s ‘Hab’ experiment in which they acted out a human-robot Mars mission in the Utah dessert as it was particularly useful in managing the times zones between Earth and Mars and providing map based geographical infromation[5]. The last Major update to the program’s software was made available in May 2007 and no further updates have been uploaded to the program’s website since. This is mostly likely due to the fact that the programs major functions that were novel when it was first made, were taken over by rising modern social media.


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  2. ^ "From Buddy Lists to Buddy Space: Enhanced Presence Management for Collaboration, Learning and Gaming" (Presentation at Voice On The Net / Presence and Interworking Mobility Summit (VON/PIM Europe), Helsinki, Finland, June 10-13, 2002)
  3. ^ Vogiazou, I.T., Dzbor, M., Komzak, J. and Eisenstadt, M."BuddySpace: Large-Scale Presence for Communities at Work at Play" Submitted to Inhabiting Virtual Places, Workshop at E-CSCW-03), September, 2003, Helsinki, Finland
  4. ^ Eisenstadt, M., Komzak, J. and Dzbor, M. "Instant messaging + maps = powerful collaboration tools for distance learning"Proceedings of TelEduc03, May 19-21, 2003, Havana, Cuba
  5. ^ Open University explores future Mars mission projects with NASA, Electronics Weekly, July 14, 2004, News; Pg. 10, 206 words, Staff