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Types of Online Communication
Instant Messaging

Similar to chat, instant messaging (IM) uses special software to send private messages to users connected to the same instant messaging network. However, instant messaging differs from IRC in several ways:

  • Messages are always sent privately. Only one person should receive a message.
  • You have a "presence" on the instant messaging network that is broadcast to everyone who has you assigned to their contact list. That means that whenever you log on to the instant messaging network, all your friends are immediately notified of your presence. And vice versa when you log off of the network.
  • You are notified every time you receive a new message from a contact, usually by a chat window opening or a flashing icon and (possibly) a sound effect.

  • ICQ Lite

     

    Choosing an instant messaging network

    The most popular instant messaging clients & networks are ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger (notice a trend, here?) Each has its own network, so you can only send messages to people who are connected to the same messaging network as you. Your choice of which network to use will probably be most influenced by numbers: the more people you know on one network, the more useful being on that network will be. Each instant messaging network has its special advantages, too: ICQ allows you to send messages to other users even when they are not connected, while MSN has integrated the Hotmail e-mail service into their instant messaging so that you are alerted to new e-mail messages as they arrive, as well as instant messages.



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