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Instant messaging is a form of text-based real-time communication on the Internet
- “Instant messaging allows you to maintain a list of people that you wish to interact with. You can send messages to any of the people in your list, often called a buddy list or contact list, as long as that person is online. Sending a message opens up a small window where you and your friend can type in messages that both of you can see” - (How Instant Messaging Works retrieved 13:40, 27 May 2006 (MEST))
- “Instant messaging requires the use of a client program that hooks up an instant messaging service and differs from e-mail in that conversations are then able to happen in realtime. Most services offer a presence information feature, indicating whether people on one's list of contacts are currently online and available to chat. This may be called a contact list.” Wikipedia:Instant messaging.
1 Features and benefits
Here are the most common features:
- Instant messages
- Contact List management
- Web Links sharing
- Files transmission
- Audio conferencing
- Chat rooms.
- In contrast to e-mails or phone, the parties know whether the peer is available (users can set to online or offline status if they wish).
- People are not forced to reply immediately to incoming messages.
- There is a trace. Instant messages typically get logged in a local message history
- It is easy to exchange links (compared to a phone call).
2 Standards and systems
- Most popular services are based on proprietary technology, except Gtalk that is based on XMPP, the extensible messaging and presence protocol.
- However, some clients like the the open source Wikipedia:Gaim allow to communicate with different "universes".
- Internet Relay Chat (IRC) like systems (the original, 1996)
- Typical modern systems like AIM, MSN, Yahoo that offer many features (including voice and video chat).
- Small IM blocks integrated into portals like LMSs and C3MS (web based, no special client needed).
2.3 Popular systems
- AIM (America online)
- MSN Messenger (Microsoft)
- Yahoo Messenger
- ICQ ("I seek you")
- Gtalk (Google)
See the Wikipedia's instant messaging article for more systems.
3 Instant messaging in education
- on-demand formal tutoring
- peer-to-peer informal tutoring
- on-line discussions (chats and specials educational chats are better for that)
- Instant messaging
- VoIP (should be moved to a separate article some day ....)