In our case study, we examined the instant messaging (IM) workplace discourse of a pair of expert IM users. We found that the participants maintained discourse cohesion and thus coherence via short, rapidly sent transmissions that created uninterrupted transmission sequences. Such uninterrupted transmission sequences allowed each participant to maintain the floor. Also, the participants used topicalizations and performative verbs to maintain coherence. We also found that the participants' use of short transmissions may have ambiguated their enactment of their institutional roles and the rights afforded to them by those roles.
This article discusses the results of surveys that indicate the IBM Lotus Sametime instant messaging product is a successful 'walk-up-and-use' application, requiring little documentation and no training. Users achieve a commercially significant level of performance within three months. In addition, over a much longer period, users continue to develop their skills (chat behaviors), social networks (chat partners), and attitudes toward the technology (reasons for using IM). This combination of attributes — ease of learning and sustained development of skills and strategies — is unusual in Human-computer interaction, and poses some unique challenges for creating a product that experienced users continue to find useful and usable.
IM lived for years as an obscure technology in the shadow of the WAP (wireless application protocol) wireless Web, and is still used chiefly by teenagers. But IM has recently become a source of revenue for financially beleaguered telecoms, and has been discussed as a possible replacement for e-mail.
While e-mail and discussion groups are other popular communication genres on the Internet, instant messaging is the most conducive to learning languages because of its synchronous nature. There are many ways to communicate over the Internet, but instant messaging is unique, because it almost simulates a face-to-face conversation. Unlike e-mail and discussion groups, users are not simply leaving messages to be read later. Users are both present, holding a live conversation. Although some of the subtle features of conversation are lost (such as facial expressions or tone of voice), instant messaging makes up for these disadvantages by being so widely accessible to so many people across the world.
Let’s face it, the honeymoon between you and your inbox is over. Finished. As spam and e-mail-borne viruses comprise a staggering 70 percent of all e-mail traffic worldwide, it is clear that we are all at our wit’s end. As our frustration with unsolicited e-mail has skyrocketed, our attention span for reading legitimate e-mails has plummeted. So what’s a conscientious e-communicator to do? As anyone in this business can tell you, silence is not an option. While there currently is no silver bullet to solve the growing e-mail problem, one technology that provides an alternative is instant messaging.