Like other CMC's (such as AIM or IRC), lily allows users to read and reply to messages in a text-based format. A Lily server is composed of one or more discussions. Each discussion has a name and overall topic, and is owned by exactly one user. A user may join as many discussions as he/she pleases.
Messages may be sent to a discussion (known as 'public' sends), to another user (known as 'private' sends), or to a combination of more than one users and/or discussions. Messages sent to a discussion will be seen by all users who have joined that discussion. Messages sent to users will be seen only by those users.
Lily stores buffers of messages both for discussions and for each individual user. This enables users to 'review' what was sent to them and to their favorite discussions while they were disconnected from lily (or otherwise not paying attention).
The current incarnation of lily is the result of several modifications to existing CMCs at RPI. Previous names include 'Connect' and 'Clover'.
Lily is used both for entertainment (such as the lily server at RPI), and in the workplace. Some companies have decided to install a lily server to aid in workplace communication.