We're researching the latest paradigms on 'conversation' (topic/thread/comment) UX designs that advance considerably from the 'old' forum models. IOW, what are some recent UI patterns for conversations that break from the traditional 'forum' UX? Can anyone suggest designs, sources, examples, etc of these?
EDIT: To be more specific, we are building a system where part of it implements a conversation 'forum' whose content is structured along the familiar lines of 'topics'->threads started by users under a topic->comments by others under each particular thread. I have an image of a random forum along these lines below.
Of course we all know about these age old forums UI/UX that are stratified along the same lines as above. We hate to mimic those and would like to implement a NEW and BETTER UX for our users. What is the modern state of affairs, and does anyone know of examples of new and FUNCTIONAL designs they can share?