While using the buddy list in Gaim works fairly well for a small number of contacts, it’s fairly clumsy if your list grows. I don’t know if anyone actually uses those, but the groups are fairly poor in helping me in finding the person I’m looking for. I cannot have my gaim contact list open all the time and once I bring it up, I am scanning thought the list which takes longer than typing the nick or name I know.
I see IM slowly taking the role of the most important communication media from e-mail. People start adding IM to their contact info and corporations have been using IM for a while too. The number of people in your buddylist seems to grow, even before you started using your company’s contact list (think thousands of contacts).
Now the new hip thing seems to be the ability to quickly search and share stuff. I believe search is very much linked to an action that you wish to do once you found whatever you were looking for. I started mocking up a small applet that lets you find stuff. We started with finding files locally, but I believe the same concept works for other things, like finding people to mail, IM. Finding apps to run, finding webpages I visited etc. The interface to find things is to be as primitive as possible. Advanced searches should go to an application similar to the current best app that beagle includes.