Keeping in touch in today’s world has never been easier. Most of us have a home phone, work phone, cell phone, work email, and personal email. If you’re hip, you also use your cell phone to text message with friends and family, which is very convenient when your in meetings or in a noisy place like a concert or restaurant.
How about IM, this has to be one of the best communications tools ever. If you’re not familiar with IM then you should be. The acronym stands for Instant Messaging and it’s like text messaging but on your computer. I use IM every day because it allows me to multi-task. When I’m on the phone, believe you me, I’m also doing email and often times, IM too because it’s a great way to get stuff done. What’s also cool about IM is that, like text messaging, it’s not a real-time conversation which means you can do other stuff and come back to the conversation when time permits.
Now the down-side. When one decides to jump onto the IM bandwagon, they quickly realize that there are multiple services and that none are compatible with the others. The most popular services are Yahoo!Messenger, Microsoft Live and AOL’s AIM. Where this becomes a problem is in giving your information to friends. Let’s say you sign up for a Yahoo account (all services are free BTW) but you find out your friend or family member has AIM. Unfortunately, you have to have an AIM account if you are going to IM with them. The best way around this issue is to setup accounts on all three services and then use a multi-service client such as Trillian or the web-based meebo. This is a practical approach that limits you to a single client yet gives you the ability to IM with as many friends and family as possible.
If you’re not IMing today, do yourself a favor and setup your accounts, you’ll be glad you did.