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instant messaging

instant messaging (IM) - another one of the older forms of "live" communication, IM is text-based real-time communication between two (or more) individuals in a private chat environment. Originally available only on online services like AOL, current IM programs are web based with "buddy lists" that alert you when someone you know (who uses the same IM program) is online. Many IM programs allow file transfers between buddies, leave "away" messages, and typing notifications. Some can be accessed with a PDA or cell phone.

Instant messaging programs are a synchronous communication tools; they let you communicate with others at the same time. They are the computer equivalent of telephone communication - typing replaces talking.
Advantages - immediacy; some degree of privacy; can be recorded and reviewed.
Disadvantages - sometimes lends a false sense of intimacy; can be difficult to schedule; can be recorded and shared.

Educational uses - virtual office hours, scholarly or student collaborative communication

free instant messaging programs

  • the most commonly used single protocol messengers
  • multiple protocol messengers let you use more than one IM service at the same time. For example,
    • Fire (for Macintosh) lets you access IRC, Jabber, AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, and Apple Rendezvous.
    • Gaim (for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows) is compatible with AIM and ICQ (Oscar protocol), MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, GroupWise Messenger, and Zephyr networks
  • comparison chart of instant messengers

further reading


Copyright 2005-2011 Susan Kullmann