Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a network chat protocol in wide use around the world. The School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) manages an IRC server for School use at irc.soic.indiana.edu. All members of the School and other IU users interested in SoIC discussions are welcome to use this service.
In order to use the SoIC IRC service, you will need to use the server irc.soic.indiana.edu and provide a shared password. This password is available on the IRC Server Access page. Alternatively, you can use the Web Interface (qwebirc) without having to use the password.
The creation of channels on the IRC server is a very ad hoc process and channels will come and go dynamically however #soic is a popular destination. You should use your IRC client program to list the available channels and you are welcome to join existing channels or create new ones.
In order to connect to the IRC server, you will need to use client software. There are many available IRC clients for most OS platforms and the IRC Wikipedia Entry has a list of several available client programs for Linux, Windows, and Mac. On the SoIC unified Linux systems you can use pidgin and xchat (which are gui based) or the irssi command-line program.
Another popular IRC client for OS X is Adium. If you are using Adium, you can set this up by going to Preferences, selecting Accounts, clicking '+', and selecting IRC (Internet Chat Relay). Then, under the Accounts tab, enter your name as your Nickname, the host irc.soic.indiana.edu, and the password available from IRC Server Access. Finally, and this is required, go to the Options tab and change the Encoding from the default of UTF-8 to ASCII. Once all of that is done, just click Connect when Adium opens and then join a chat by going to File > Join Group Chat..., in Account select irc.soic.indiana.edu, and in the Channel enter #soic (or any other channel of your choice).