My Dad No Likie IM
My dad refuses to use IM, says it’s a hassle. "Just email me" he says "I am not tethered to my PC like you ya know!".
Some of us use Instant Messaging and Email everyday, nearly always in contact and never far from a PC. There are many who shy away from IM because it’s too instant.
They are busy during the day and do not have much time for impromptu conversations on a PC and you can forget about them using IM on a wireless device. The have learned email and that frankly that is working just fine for them.
I am getting this not just from my aging retired parents but also professionals I know in the industry. They are busy! No time for IM conversations and they want to be able to track the conversations they have without a great deal of trouble.
Dad said he would probably use it more if they could pick up the IM messages he missed in the same Inbox as his email and when it’s convenient for him, via online web mail or in Outlook on his laptop.
I wanted to suggest a work-around but when I started thinking about this I could not for the life of me come up with an easy solution that would work for him. I don’t know of any hosted services out there nor are there any plug-ins for the likes of MS Outlook that allow for shared IM and Mail message retrieval. My Dad uses Outlook and I read somewhere that there are 400 Million Outlook users out there today. There are hundreds of millions of users on various IM clients. Why can’t we retrieve offline or online IM messages (regardless of his IM client) in Outlook?
Yes, MSN Messenger has "pager mode" but it doesn’t work when the user is offline. There are often times when I forget (sometimes for days) to log into the current 5 IM clients I run and I end up missing conversations and sometimes opportunities. Those messages should come through to my email and also be stored on a central server if I so choose, although web mail would be fine for this. Attachments could be sent via IM and end up in your email inbox, there are some security concerns here.
In the mobile world this makes even more sense, who has time to deal with IM on a mobile device? BlackBerries are popular with the business crowd because they can get their email just about anywhere and when it’s convenient for them. If you want to communicate with those people it had better be email, and many of them have IM.
Actually, I wasn’t (really) suggesting Email as the alternative to IM (though you can use it as such).
IM shares with phone calls an assumed interactivity and immediacy. “Hey! Whatcha doing? We’re leaving for lunch in 2 minutes.” doesn’t work well translated into email. Voice and/or video calls cover the same requirements that IM does, modulo a few things such as pre-message “presence” (though I dislike it), file transfer (no reason that has to be tied to IM though), etc. They also cover the same space as SMS and the like – SMS is a real hack around lack of bandwidth and to avoid disrupting the business models built around charging significant amounts for voice calls per minute.
Socially and psychologically, it’s currently less disruptive to ignore IM/etc than it is to ignore voice calls, though there’s no real fundamental reason for that. “Presence” for voice would do away with this argument (it kindof exists today, but doesn’t get used much or it’s painful to use for UI reasons (“Do Not Disturb”/”Away”/etc settings in PBX’s/etc).
If you have bandwidth, why would you tap out weird SMS shorthand into 100-ish character lines instead of simply talking? Ditto for IM, though I can type a lot faster/longer on a keyboard than an cellphone – but I can still talk faster, and provide far more nuance and side information, doubly so if I can leave a video message.
I think in many ways IM is an artifact of the path technology took to get to where we mostly are today, and soon will really be.
There are groups of communication types:
i) personal (calls, IM)
ii) group (chat, conference)
b) non-interactive (messages – doesn’t really belong here)
i) crafted, deliberative (email)
ii) spontaneous (messages, quicky-emails)
i) crafted (forums)
ii) spontaneous (?)
Calls and IM fall into the same grouping by my take. The biggest reason I can see right now for IM in the long-run is pseudo-anonymity – if the government allows it… 1/2 🙂 (And there are ways to have pseudo-anonymity without IM.)
And blackberries? For email? Ugh. It’s like browsing the web with a WAP browser. Yeah, you can do it, but why would you want to unless forced? 🙂