Here is a list of Internet Relay Chat programs that you can use to chat to people online, by typing messages and reading what they type in response:
IRC programs (clients)
There is also a list of some active channels and nicks on SorceryNet, and a glossary of IRC terms.
If you would like the channels on your network added, contact liam at holoweb dot not, including a subject-line of irc request [socks: yellow], replacing yellow with the actual colour of socks you're wearing.
IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. You type a message on your computer (or mobile 'phone), and it's forwarded (relayed) to everyone in the same "room" or channel, and people can type out replies to you.
There are lots of different channels; you can see one list of channels as an example (the listing might take a while, be patient!). You can join a channel in most IRC programs by clicking on it, or by typing /join #socks, where of course you put the name of the channel instead of socks.
Make sure there's no space before the / and that you do have a space between join and the # because computers get fussy about things like that. If you are used to Microsoft Windows or MS-DOS, be careful to use the slash(/) and not the backslash(\).
People use IRC for all sorts of things:
For technical support, finding answers to questions about computer programs for example;
For meetings, perhaps in conjunction with a teleconference: this works reasonably well because someone can paste a URL into the conversation and everyone else can go look at it, rather than having to read out a URL over the telephone! You can use IRC as a collaborative tool, too, for example taking minutes of a meeting on an IRC channel so other people on the call can make suggestions or additions in real time.
For rolegaming. This includes a wide range of activities from free-form collaborative fantasy or speculative fiction at the literary end, to Dungeons and Dragons at the more game and action-oriented end; it can be a sort of improvisational theatre.
For cybersex and dating and adult roleplay!
Most Linux systems come with xchat; the Mac has Colloquy, or you can go and get it; for Microsoft Windows the most popular client is probably mIRC. See the ful list or IRC programs.