Informal interactions are a key element of workgroup communication, but have proven difficult to support in distributed groups. One reason for this is that existing systems have focused either on novel means for gathering information about the availability or activity of others, or on allowing people to display their activities to others. There has not been sufficient focus on the interplay between these activities. This interplay is important, however, because mutual awareness and attention are the mechanisms by which people negotiate the start of conversations. In this paper, we present the OpenMessenger Framework, a system and design framework rooted in the assumption that individual behaviors occur in anticipation of and/or in response to the behavior of others. We describe both the system architecture, and specific examples of the novel implementations it enables. These include techniques for coupling gathering behaviors with display behaviors, and for integrating these into user workspaces via peripheral displays and gaze tracking.