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instrant messenger

Page history last edited by Jay Cross 16 years, 9 months ago

Instant Messenger

Instant messaging or IM is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text. The text is conveyed via computers connected over a network.

Most services offer a presence information feature, indicating whether people on one's list of contacts are currently online and available to chat. This may be called a contact list. Most instant messaging applications also include the ability to set a status message, roughly analogous to the message on a telephone answering machine.

Popular instant messaging services on the public Internet include .NET Messenger Service, AOL Instant Messenger, Excite/Pal, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, iChat, ICQ, Jabber, Qnext, QQ, Skype, Trillian and Yahoo! Messenger. These services owe many ideas to an older (and still popular) medium known as online chatInternet Relay Chat (IRC).


Unworkshop participants use Skype for presence awareness (who's online?), free telephone calls, transmitting one-to-one video, and instant messaging.

Some companies swear by Instant Messenger ("IM"). It is much more efficient that telephone calls. It reduces cycle time. It's free. You'd think every organization with a network would use IM, but some companies have policies explicitly forbidding IM. Many times this traces back to a decision long ago by an underling in IT who considered "all that web stuff" an invitation to hackers and virus attackes. (IM is as secure as email, if not more so.) Another example of the stupidity of silos.

A new study from Computer Standards and Interfaces seems to indicate that for collaborative, non-face to face tasks, we do much better communicating via IM rather than email:

On average, the IM teams produced one more idea than those using email. The researchers suggests this may be due to the speed of IM compared to email.
Obviously, face to face interactions are probably best, but the findings are interesting nonetheless. How about you - what's your preferrance. (Lifehacker 1/7/07)

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