The Strongest Links: Instant Messaging Resources
RUUP4IT = Are You Up For It?
AFAIC = As Far As I'm Concerned
BTHOOM = Beats the Heck Out of Me
FWIW = For What It's Worth
BBIAS = Be Back In a Sec
AFK = Away From Keyboard
TCOB = Taking Care of Business
BAK = Back At Keyboard
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
OTOH = On the Other Hand
AYK = As You Know
IANAL = I Am Not A Lawyer
IOH = I'm Out of Here
LMAO = Laughing My A** Off
TTYL = Talk To You Later
CUL8R = See You Later
In our quest for increasingly faster electronic communications, many are turning to instant messaging (IM) instead of e-mail. Indeed, IM is not just for kids anymore Ė businesses are utilizing instant messaging as tools for communicating quickly between employees. Before using these tools in the legal workspace, itís helpful to have a complete understanding of how IM works, and the legal and security issues involved. The following is a transcript of an actual IM conversation between Dennis and Tom, as they surf for the Strongest Links on instant messaging.
Tom Mighell (4:48:40 PM):
All right, Dennis, let's get this show on the road. RUUP4IT? What Web site on instant messaging do you want to talk about first?
Dennis Kennedy (4:50:45 PM):
When I'm looking for a resource with a great business focus on any technology issue, I like Darwin Magazine's executive guides. They give you a good overview and collect a lot of useful information, all with a business focus. Darwin Magazine's Executive Guide on Text Messaging
Tom Mighell (4:54:27 PM):
That's a great resource. Before we get into business applications of IM, though, shouldn't we give a more basic definition of instant messaging? AFAIC, a great definition is found at Wikipedia, which has some useful background information, as well as links to IM terms and external links to other resources.
Dennis Kennedy (4:58:36 PM):
Longtime readers of this column will know that we tend to recommend the Wikipedia, which is community-created encyclopedia, as a good starting point on most subjects these days. It's amazing how useful this volunteer resource has become. Maybe we should talk about some of the tools people might use for instant messaging. We're a little unusual in that we are using Skype for instant messaging, but Skype has become popular for instant messaging recently, even though it's better known for being a way to make free Internet phone calls.
Tom Mighell (5:00:31 PM):
And it has good emoticons, too.
Tom Mighell (5:04:19 PM):
But there are other programs that are frankly more powerful than Skype for instant messaging. The problem can be choosing the right one -- there are so many choices, everybody's using something different. That's why I like Trillian -- it's a cross-platform chat client that supports AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and IRC. There's a free version, and for $25 you can buy the Pro edition, which is more full-featured. It's a great way to keep up with everyone. Another cross-platform is GAIM -- it's an open source (translation = free) product that works with all the same IM programs as Trillian, plus four or five more.
Dennis Kennedy (5:09:34 PM):
The interoperability of instant messaging systems has been an ongoing issue. If you have a long memory, it will remind you of the old days when CompuServe users couldn't send email to America Online users who couldn't send email to Prodigy users and so on. Trillian is an often-recommended tool. Gush is another example of a free cross-platform tool. In general, you probably want to use one of these tools or the instant messaging platform that the people you will IM with most often are using. You might also expect to use multiple IM services.
Dennis Kennedy (5:10:24 PM):
Whew, that seems a little complicated. Does it just take some practice, the help of a teenager or are there some good basic tutorials?
Tom Mighell (5:11:02 PM):
BTHOOM. Sounds like you have a site in mind.
Dennis Kennedy (5:17:40 PM):
I was hoping that you knew about a good one. For basic computer tutorials, I like books written for kids or for parents of kids. Here's a very promising looking book - Mary Braun's Mom's Survival Guide to Instant Messaging looks like a great starting point. You can also look at the FAQs for some of the IM services to help you out. For example, here is the FAQ for those new to IM at Yahoo.
Tom Mighell (5:21:21 PM):
FWIW, here's a site that provides lots of information on all the major instant messaging programs. It's called BigBlueBall, and it has up-to-date news about IM, a separate center for each IM platform, a section on IM Basics, Downloads, and a Forum where you can ask questions or share stories with others.
Dennis Kennedy (5:25:53 PM):
Great find! I've got to learn your secrets of finding these sites. I like well-chosen lists of links on a topic. And I just found a good one. It's Business 2.0's Web Guide on Instant Messaging. The articles are starting to show their age a bit, but the collection covers most of the issues that come up in the business use of instant messaging.
Tom Mighell (5:27:27 PM):
BBIAS -- doing the laundry. AFK
Dennis Kennedy (5:30:06 PM):
I like sites with a strong business orientation - TCOB, as they say in the IM world. Here are two solid ones: SearchCIO's Best CIO Web Links on Instant Messaging Index and TechRepublic Instant Messaging Spotlight. Both sites will give you some ideas about how IM is changing business communication.
Dennis Kennedy (5:30:33 PM):
Sorry, got ahead of myself there.
Tom Mighell (5:34:46 PM):
BAK - Gee, I've got some catching up to do.
Tom Mighell (5:36:43 PM):
As long as we're talking about business communication, we need to discuss the rules. Nancy Flynn wrote a book called Instant Messaging Rules in 2004 -- it will set you back $20 to buy it, but she gives away 10 of them at Ten Tips on Using IM. Good things to keep in mind before using instant messaging in the workplace.
Dennis Kennedy (5:41:45 PM):
What will the impact of instant messaging be on the practice of law? Should litigators be learning about IM for purposes of discovery? Greg McCurdy and Martha Dawson of Preston Gates have authored an article called "Are Instant Messages Discoverable?" Get the PDF. Courts are already starting to rule that instant messages can be admissible. Read more. That's probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Tom Mighell (5:42:07 PM):
In IM: Instant Malaise?, we learn about what might happen if we donít pay attention to the rising growth of instant messaging.
Dennis Kennedy (5:45:09 PM):
Speaking of IM rules and etiquette, there's a great article, IMHO, called "10 Tips for Using Instant Messaging in Business" on the Microsoft Australia site. Some people even see IM starting to replace email. See "Instant Messaging Replacing Email?"
Tom Mighell (5:46:29 PM):
You're right -- some experts predict that the volume of instant messaging will easily outpace that of e-mail, and soon. So it's important to make sure that lawyers and their clients know the risks inherent in IM technology. Here are a few articles that discuss the issue: Instant Messaging and Compliance Issues: What You Need to Know; Instant Messaging -- Managing Risks and Rewards; Instant Insecurity: Security Issues of Instant Messaging; and A Strategy for Corporate Instant Messaging in 2005.
Dennis Kennedy (5:49:03 PM):
IM and security concerns seem to go hand in hand. For those interested in even more information on security, check out the Secure Instant Messaging Blog. For even more technical information and the latest in IM news, try Instant Messaging Planet.
Dennis Kennedy (6:00:02 PM):
We're starting to sound too much like lawyers with all this talk about security and discovery. What about some resources explaining the benefits of instant messaging? Here's a good white paper on some of the business benefits: "Instant Messaging for Enterprises: How it Works, Key Benefits and Enterprise Requirements". The recent article "Businesses are getting the (instant) message" covers the topic well, too. But, instant messaging is also fun. Let's end with the topics of multi-tasking, emoticons and IM acronyms.
Tom Mighell (6:00:30 PM):
Wait! Wait! I have one more semi-serious site: Messaging Pipeline is another techno-centric page, but on all messaging in general. So in addition to learning about IM, you can also receive helpful information on e-mail, spam, and any other type of messaging technology.
Tom Mighell (6:03:50 PM):
NOW we can have fun.
Dennis Kennedy (6:07:56 PM):
Instant messaging opens up new realms of multi-tasking. A great starting point on the topic is "The Art of Multi-Tasking". There is already serious concern about the impact of electronic multi-tasking on our society.
Dennis Kennedy (6:17:33 PM):
We're even seeing academic studies of IM styles of communication that deal with the practice of using acronyms and emoticons. Some have suggested that, generally speaking, men write in the way they speak in IM, while women write like they write. I find that I consciously try to write like I am, well, speaking.
Dennis Kennedy (6:19:25 PM):
OTOH, we don't want to ignore the famous or infamous study that suggested that "constant e-mailing and text-messaging reduces your intelligence by 10 IQ points - an effect more damaging than smoking marijuana". Read the story.
Dennis Kennedy (6:24:11 PM):
AYK, there is a heavy usage of emoticons (the little smiley faces) and acronyms in the world of IM. It can be a little disconcerting to see someone start a sentence with "IANAL, . . . ." Some sites to peruse include smileytown.com and smileycentral.com, the Emoticon to RealLife Conversion Manual, and the Instant Messenger Handbook, but be warned -- there are some language issues here.
Tom Mighell (6:28:25 PM):
And if you want to decipher all of the acronyms we have been using in this session, check out NetLingoís Acronyms & Text Messaging page. Thereís an equally exhaustive listing of emoticons there, too. Well, IOH. Good talking with you.
Dennis Kennedy (6:30:59 PM):
Those emoticons have me LMAO. TTYL.
Tom Mighell (6:31:43 PM):