IM The Future: Chatting’s Next Chapter

icqMy first encounter with instant messaging was ICQ. When that animated little flower on my task tray finally lights up, and I hear that distinct “Uh Oh”, I knew I was connected to a friend through cyberspace. ICQ had its share of ups and downs. It had a thriving community, but it was a pain to have to remember your numerical ID.

Then in strolled Microsoft, with their MSN and their numerous emoticons. It only took a Hotmail or MSN account to connect with fellow MSN-ers. This IM program still has a very strong following to date. Yahoo! Messenger, with its numerous versions and upgrades, bank on their flexibility and community. I myself am an avid YM user, because it’s just so much fun to create an avatar on them. You can even share a radiocast, and play silly games on the message window.

But all these messaging services have had to make way for the SNS phenomenon. Blogs, micro-blogs, social networking – what used to be time spent in cyber chatrooms are now spent connecting with old and new friends to give them a virtual poke. The average net user spends more time now in these social networking sites than loading and logging on to IM programs.

facebook-meebo

It’s no wonder that now, we find these two merge together. Meebo, a web-based messaging service, have teamed up with Facebook for never-before-seen Connect + Chat ability. I’ve just recently tried it, and upon log on, I get an instant list of my Facebook buddies who are online. Through Meebo.com, you can send files to your Facebook buddies, have an audio/video chat with them, even play silly games just like in popular IM services.

This service is fairly new, and I’m sure majority of Facebook users are still not familiar with it. But it won’t be long until this new generation of Connect + Chat functionality buries old-school IM chatting, much like how ICQ is now pushed back in the recesses of computer nostalgia.

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