Chapter 15. Instant Messages and Chat

If you think email is a fast way to communicate, wait until you get a look at instant messaging (or IMing, in the lingo). As anyone under the age of 21 can tell you, instant messages whip back and forth without any delay, gloriously free of email’s administrative overhead. No longer do you have to go through all that bother of creating a message, entering the address and subject header, writing your note and, finally, sending it. As an IMer, your exchange is much more like the conversations everyone used to have when they weren’t sitting in front of computers. So forget about waiting 5 or 10 minutes for an email acquaintance to lob back a response; with an IM, you get an answer as quickly as your pal on the other end can type.

Chatting is similar to instant messaging, except that several people can join the conversation. They might join a chat room to pick a movie, rant about their favorite shooting guard’s foul trouble, or meet new people.

These two forms of online communication may take a little getting used to. But once you find programs you like and people to talk to, you might discover a whole new reason to reach out and touch someone.

Instant Messaging: An Introduction

Instant messaging programs, shown in Figure 15-1, work like email, but instantly. You type a short message in your IM program, click a button, and your words pop up on your friend’s screen, whether he lives in Paris or the cubicle next to yours.

Figure 15-1. AOL Instant ...

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