|Instant Messaging from the office|
When you meet someone for the first time, do you ask for their ASL? Do you LOL if theycome out withsomething funny, and say CU L8er when you finish the conversation? If you know what I’mtalking about, then you are probably already a user of Instant Messaging, or IM.
The idea behind IM is simple. A program on your computer tells you when a friend isonline. You can then send a message to your friend, who can type a reply instantly. To do this, you need an IM program.
Worldwide, AIM, the Instant Messaging service provided by AOL, is by far the most popular. It has 195 million users who send about 1.6billionmessages every day. ICQ, which isowned byAOL, has about 140 million messengers, and MSN and Windows IMmake upabout 75 million users.
Theadvantageover e-mail is that with Instant Messaging you know you’re likely to get a reply. IM is alreadyhugelypopular in the USA, where people spend five times more time online than in Europe. However, IM is starting totake offin the UK, with over 3000 peoplesigning upto MSN Messenger alone every day.
While theplus pointsof IM areobvious, there is one very importantdisadvantage: you can only contact someone on the samenetworkas you. If your friend is using AIM, and you are using MSN, you cannot talk to each other. This makes IM less useful than it should be. Imagine if you couldn’t send an e-mail from hotmail to yahoo. However, things look like they’ll change soon.
In general,the future looks brightfor IM. Lots of programs also allow you to have voice conversations,video conferencing– this means you can see the other person using awebcam– and also let youswappictures, music and otherfiles.
So, perhaps we’ll all soon be asking someone’s age, sex and location (ASL), and laughing out loud (LOL) when they say something funny. See you later! (CU L8er)