Local chat is a leftover artifact of a previous design philosophy, one that said that people play MMORPGs to socialize with other players and that its the game's responsibility to provide an easy avenue to communicate. Thus room/zone/local chat was introduced and propagated to this day in all games of the genre.
However, Eve's evolution has strayed a lot from most (if not all other) MMOs. I've argued in the past that Eve is a simulation rather than a game and due to that higher level of complexity the Local chat channel has evolved from a socialization tool to anything but. I can count on two hands that in 5 years the Local channel was something I used for spontaneous interaction. Alliance/Corp channels, public channels, voice comms, forums, IRC/Jabber all replace the need for Local chat for socialization purposes.
Well, Local chat in Eve is primarily an intelligence gathering tool. Whenever someone is in a system with you, regardless of the millions of positions he could be at, you know his name, corp, alliance, employment history, and standings all at the click of a mouse on 'Show Info'. Its as if you are in a 50 story office building on the 35th floor and know all the relevant facts about someone entering the building from any entrance except for the clothes they are wearing.
So a pilot in Eve knows when someone has entered system with him without ever putting eyes on him. This is an equal tool for sure, available to all and sundry, but the issue is that provides an extremely easy and effective warning system and thus limits opportunities for PvP. However, the funny part of it all is that it also acts as an effective hunting tool for PvPers looking for targets that are not as vigilant of the local channel.
The end result is that small groups/individuals who can't watch all the nearby local channels like a hawk are more easily hunted while larger groups and bot software that can observe local 24/7 are more easily protected.
In other words, Local chat channel intelligence is a tool that helps the people that need it / deserve it the least. This is a contributing factor why low sec is a barren wasteland filled mostly with people simply shooting each other and industry a mostly forgotten playstyle, and its a contributing factor to why small alliances can't make headway into null sec (i.e. there is no way to hide). It also, in my ever so humble opinion, makes warfare in Eve less exciting as surprising your opponents is very difficult since any alt can peek into the nearby systems and look at local to see hostile fleets, thus leading to the cyno hot drop as the most effective surprise attack weapon.
Its time to put delayed local into play in null sec. For those not aware, delayed mode in a chat channel is the state where you don't appear in the list as soon as you join the channel. Instead, you only appear once you say something in that channel. This is the mode used by various channels you can join and is the mode used by local channel in wormhole space.
PvP in wormhole space is fraught with excitement and danger as you never know if someone is hunting you or if the target you've locked has four buddies ready to warp in and assist them. Now imagine that suspense without the vagaries of random wormholes and mass limitations; two large fleets moving to engage when suddenly another unexpected fleet warps in? Delicious.
Also, the delayed local would allow small groups to more easily infiltrate large alliance space as scouts will have to have eyes on gates instead of cloaked at a safe spot, and tracking an enemy fleet will require actually following them and using scan probes. It would allow small groups wishing to exploit resources in deep space to more easily hide their numbers and even existence from the local overlords, forcing large power blocks to patrol their space more judiciously.
Finally, it will make it harder on bots to protect themselves. Instead of watching local for new contacts, additional accounts will be needed to sit on the gates to watch for hostiles, seriously cutting into profitability of the mechanical monsters. Or they continue to use one account and directional scanner but are more vulnerable to cloaked hunters.
Force alliances to work to hold their space while making it harder for bots and easier for small groups to enter null sec and perhaps make a living? And more exciting combat scenarios?
Sounds like a win-win-win to me.
Its time: make null sec use delayed local chat channels.