15 – Talk Google to Me


Instant Messaging with Google Talk.

Skip straight to the task

What is it?

Instant Messaging (IM) gives you the ability to quickly and simply converse with your contacts in real time, using text.  It’s been around in various forms since before the internet existed, and you’ll find many different variations on the idea around today.  Modern incarnations are typically quite sophisticated and often to allow you to do more than just post text – you might be able to share images, or use voice or video chat, for example.

Like several of the othe technologies and tools we’ve looked at so far, instant messaging comes in a few  different flavours:

  • Client-based: Requires you to download software to your computer in order to chat.  Examples of this are Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger
  • Web-based: Runs in your browser – you log on to a website to chat.  Examples of this are Google Talk (via gmail) and meebo.
  • Single-protocol: Users can only chat to peoples who are using the the same IM service.  Yahoo and Windows messengers are, again, examples of this.
  • Multi-protocol: Users can chat to people who are using one of several different IM services.  Again, meebo does this, as does Pidgin

Different people tend to prefer different IM services, which is, in turn, making multi-protocol services more and more popular.  Likewise are browser-based services rising in popularity – they can go where ever you go, and, increasingly, chat windows can be embeded on the web.  Many client-based IM services now offer web-based versions of themselves.

Why use it?

IM is great for keeping in touch with people, particularly if they live elsewhere in the world.  In the Library, the most obvious use is as a reference service, as countless libraries around the world already do.  As well as keeping in touch with clients, it’s great for communicating with colleagues in a timely fashion – replacing email in many situations – particularly to get a quick clarification on something, or for conversations that you want (or need) to keep a copy of.

To Complete Thing 15:

For 23 Things, we’re going to be using the web-based version Google Talk, which lives in gmail.  Several of you may have already spotted the program, in the left-hand column.  As you’ve e-mailed people, or added them to your contacts, their names would have appeared in the chat box.

  1. Log in to gmail and see who out of your contacts is online.
  2. Drop the Practically Perfect Programmer a line.
  3. If you don’t have the Practically Perfect Programmer on your list, or any other contacts, e-mail thebookbuster@gmail.com to let her know, and she will provide you with some addresses for other participants.
  4. See if you can find someone else to strike up a conversation with – just be mindful of their status.

All done with Thing 15?  Move on to Thing 16!


1 Comment »

  1. helenkitty Said:

    For people who have Macs, Adium is the best IM client. It’s made my the same people who do Pidgin and just like it, has multi-protocol capabilities. Free to download from the web too.

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