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Article: The Uselessness of IM?

by on March 19, 2007

While doing my usual Web time-wasting, I came across a blog post about someone who has sworn off using instant messaging.

Conversations that should have taken place in 3-5 minutes on the phone would now take 15-20 minutes, 5 of which would be awkwardly used trying to get the conversation to a close, waiting for direct responses to questions, and making sure you weren’t both typing at once. And the idea that instant messages would aid you in collaboration at work were a bunch of hooey. Anybody I know at the office using IM is using it to talk to a spouse or friend, or, if with another colleague, to complain about the boss or another co-worker. The actual productivity of IM is a significant negative.

I find this a little fascinating, since many corporate environments have unofficially adopted some sort of chat protocol for communication. It’s instant, doesn’t tie up phone lines, and can still be rather passive. However, cutesy away messages, multiple chats at the same time, and multiple screen names can make it seem more informal than almost any other form of conversation. Let’s not forget screen names like flRtieGrL10 don’t convey the professionally of jsmith at somerandomcompanycompany dot com

Things like Twitter are nothing new – except now there’s more of a record of what you’ve been doing. Social networking sites have a status that people feel compelled to change at every single moment, and IM away messages let your friends know what you’re up to…or not.

I guess the real question is—how does instant messaging play a role in your life? Do you have a creative way of using it to keep things under control? Feel free to use the comments and share…

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