Thursday, March 02, 2006

Instant messaging (IM)

Last week I downloaded a new version of AOL's instant messenger (Triton) and used its Plaxo feature to have it lookup people I have in my MS Outlook Contacts to see if anyone had an AOL instant messenger (AIM) ID. I was very impressed with the number of people that it found. Now I've been trying to message some of those people. And here's where I've run into problems. People tend to not allow "just anyone" to contact them through IM. So I'm having a hard time reaching out to talk to business colleagues and friends through IM.

Thankfully, I think that information professionals may be more willing to reach out through IM. Some libraries use IM to communicate with patrons (see SJCPL). Some libraries allow patrons to IM from public computers. (BTW one library in my region kicks people/kids out who download the IM software and prohibits them to come back to the library for the remainder of the calendar year.)

I also think that there is an age difference in who really likes IM and who doesn't. I watch college students in class and in computer labs, and they IM all the time. (Ah...those Millennials!) How "old" and stodgy some of us must look, if we won't IM and want to inhibit them from IMing.

If you've read this far, you might wonder why you should care about instant messenger.
  1. It is an accepted communications tool.
  2. It is a social networking tool.
  3. It could help you interact with your users -- whether they are sitting at a computer in your facility or halfway around the world.
  4. It could be a great way of connecting to those who are using your digital library in real time.
  5. It is seen as part of / related to what is called Library 2.0.
Library 2.0? Sarah Houghton (LiB) said that Library 2.0 is...
...making your library'’s space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs...The basic drive is to get people back into the library by making the library relevant to what they want and need in their daily make the library a destination and not an afterthought.
Interactive, collaborative -- sounds like some of things that IM provides. And if your community wants to use it, shouldn't you use it too?

BTW my ID on AIM is jillNYS. Go ahead...message me!

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Russell said...

Every computer system I've ever worked with at home or in the workplace has had problems with AOL instant messenger. It just doesn't seem compatible for some reason and all the techies I've talked to just raise their arms and say in a loud voice, "Oh, AOL!!!" I never get anything out of them.

I think MS had an idea some time ago about one IM service that connects AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and ICQ. Too bad they abandoned the idea and no longer support such an environment. To talk to some family members and friends I need all four different ones and it is impossible to conference with two persons who each possesses a different IM client. Each service says they are working on this, but nothing really workable has come from it yet. Hopefully it will soon.

In libraries, having four different IM clients open at the same time can be confusing and use up resources, making response time slower.

Peterk said...

"So I'm having a hard time reaching out to talk to business colleagues ..."

Due to various recordkeeping requirements, laws and regulations many businesses do not allow the use of IM for business purposes. If you are in the financial services industry SEC Rule 17a-4 requires that a broker-dealer maintain all correspondence with a client for 3 years. The rule does not define correspondence or specify communication tools so if you use if you are a broker-dealer and you use IM you would be required to retain all IM messages with your customers for 3 years. Unfortunately the means to do this are not readily available. In addition many businesses want to avoid the problems associated with e-mail being discoverable for litigation. IM is just as discoverable.

I'm a professional records manager and have written policies concerning the use of IM in the business environment

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Peterk, no I don't work in financial services, nor do the people I'm IMing. Some are consultants like myself. Some are librarians in various institutions. Others are friends, who are IMing from home. The problem is that people are concerned about spam and don't want any, including IM spam. The rules you outlines don't apply.

It seems that for some, the way to open the door for doing IM is by sending an introductory e-mail, if they don't respond to the IM directly. that will alert them to who is trying to send them the IM and hopefully get them to cooperate.

Peterk said...

You're correct that the rule I mentioned does not apply to the situation you describe. What I was pointing out is that many people are restricted from using IM as a business tool.

Personally I find IM interesting, but most of my colleagues don't use it because we recognize that IM could be a considered a records and thus subject to discovery in litigation. we are more likely to pick up the phone and call then we are to IM. Most of us receive several hundred emails per day and IM just adds to the clutter.

If you can reach out via email why would you want to use IM?

Anonymous said...

Check out for your favorite instant messaging such as Yahoo, AOL and MSN.

It is a secured website. It does not keep any records including the username, password and the messages you typed.

It is very cool.

Anonymous said...

I used web-based instant messaging at so you don't have to download anything.

It is easy to use and secure.