Connecticut’s 23 Things

A Learning 2.0 Program

Week 12: IM Instant Messaging

Posted by kabery on November 25, 2009

Instant Messaging, “Texting” & More…

Instant Messaging: Introduction

Instant messaging (IM) is a form of online communication that allows participants to engage in real-time, (aka, “synchronous”)  communication over the internet, an internal network, or a mobile device. IM is primarily used for text-based chat in which participants converse by typing to one another. Today’s IM systems can also support voice, video and file-sharing.

IM Services

You can create accounts using the IM services found in the list below. There are several ways to use IM accounts. Usually, you access them through client software (which you can download for free), such as Yahoo Instant Messenger. For most IM services, there are now alternative, web-based methods to access the accounts, so installing software is no longer a prerequisite to IM-ing.

To IM someone, you must login to your account on the same network that they are on, then you can send a message to their screen name. You can add people to your “buddy list” which will allow you to see when they are available online for “chatting”.

How can Organize all my I.M. streams?

You can also use the Meebo web-based IM service to tap into any/all of your IM accounts and to facilitate IM sessions with web page visitors who do not have IM capabilities.

is a web based IM that lets you log into your IM networks from any computer with a browser and internet connection. Meebo also offers other services such as a chat room client and a personal IM client for your personal/corporate web pages Meebo Documentation Wiki

Once you’ve created a Meebo account, add in your IM account names and passwords and you will be able to monitor all of them simultaneously (e.g., including your Yahoo IM, AIM, MSN, Google Talk IM accounts) via Meebo. You can also use a MeeboMe widget to allow people to IM you from your web, wiki, or blog page. Your page visitors do not need their own IM accounts to use MeeboMe!, but you must be signed in to respond to them.

There are also pieces of client software that can be downloaded that allow access to multiple IM accounts, such as Trillian and Pidgin.

Going Mobile

Mobile IM

Originally, IM was tied to your computer. If you wanted to do “online chat”, you were tied to the computer/laptop you’d installed your IM client on. Today, there are new options for accessing IM from multiple different computers and/or other online devices, like cell phones and video game systems (like the Microsoft Xbox 360).

“Texting”, SMS, MMS: Asynchronous Mobile Messaging

The most common way people message each other on their cell phones is by using SMS (SMS stands for Short Message Service). SMS (aka, “texting”) is a feature that must be supported by the cell phone user’s device and service plan in order to function. It is not “synchronous” the way IM is. Instead, a very short text message (limit = 160 characters) is sent to the cell phone using the SMS service. The cell user can view it and respond immediately, or it will stay on their phone until such time as they decide to deal with it. So while a “text” conversation can provide a quick back and forth like an IM conversation if all parties are online and participating simultaneously,  it does not require all participants to be available at the same time in order for a dialogue to take place.

IMing vs. “Texting”

So what’s the difference between IMing & SMSing (aka, “texting”)? SMS usually happens on your phone. It is cell service-based, limited to 160 characters, and has a cost associated with it (depending on your cell phone service plan). SMS messaging does not require creation of a separate account. Instead, it uses your cell phone number.

IM is a service that runs over the internet itself, has no limits on the length of messages, and usually costs nothing. IM requires an internet connection, software/a web browser, and an IM account.  IMing usually requires a computer, though smart phones and other devices are now able to take advantage of IM services.

SMS is “asynchronous” – the conversation among SMS users is not occurring simultaneously – whereas IM is “synchronous” and requires participants to be available at the same time. For more details on Mobile IM vs. SMS, see the article: SMS vs. Mobile IM

Some instant messaging services now offer integrated IM-SMS services. (Example: for Yahoo’s web-based IM & SMS IM options. Or, go directly to “Yahoo Messenger for SMS” at

How Libraries are using IM & SMS

David Lee King at the The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has integrated Meebo into their online library catalog. A Meebo chat widget has been embeded into the unsuccessful keyword search results page, so that when patrons can’t locate a particular resource, they can contact a library staff member via Meebo instant messaging. The library telephone number is also displayed beside the widget. This is just one example of a way to offer an Ask a Librarian service, right when patrons need it!

SMS – cellphone-based text messaging – is designed for short messages, but SMS can be deployed in a variety of ways, ranging from quick reference questions to circulation system alerts (due dates, overdue messages, notices that items are on reserve, etc.).

Learning Activity:

This activity includes the creation of 2 accounts – a Yahoo IM account and a Meebo account. The MeeboMe widget will be added to your blog page.

  1. Since it’ll be ideal for everyone to get the same type of account so we can add our colleagues to our buddy lists, please sign up for a free IM account at Yahoo Messenger (
  2. You’ll be able to chat using Yahoo’s interface, and you won’t have to download any software.  As a matter of fact do not download any software – it’ll only slow up your machine.
  3. Chat with colleagues on Yahoo

Through Meebo – monitor multiple streams of IM – your Yahoo IM & a Meebo Me account :

  1. Create a Meebo account at
  2. Add your Yahoo IM account
  3. Chat on your Yahoo IM account with colleagues using Meebo
  4. Embed a “Meebo Me”  widget into your blog, so ANYONE can IM you from your blog page, without needing to login to an IM account as long as YOU are logged into Meebo
  5. Monitor your Meebo  – “chat” with people who land on your blog page

One Response to “Week 12: IM Instant Messaging”

  1. kabery said

    10 Trends & Technologies for 2009
    8 Apps That Help You Chat Across IM services
    Ask-a-Librarian Service Needs a Reboot
    Instant Messaging Toolbox: 90+ IM Tools
    Introduction to IM
    Mobile IM Meets Social Networking Twitter

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