instant messaging issue

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I love iChat. But the problem with it--and every other instant messaging tool I've used--is the awkwardness of making a casual acknowledgment of someone else's presence.

For example, if I walk into a crowded room and spot an acquaintance on the other side I know, I can wave, smile, and continue talking to the people near me (or not) without feeling any pressure to cross the room and strike up a conversation. But in all the IM environments I"ve used, there's no "wave/smile" acknowledgment mechanism. I have to either ignore the person, or engage in an exchange of messages that may turn out to be time-consuming, and that requires someone to actively break it off at some point.

Is there an IM tool out there that does this? A casual "ping" sort of thing, so that when you see someone log on, you can acknowledge them without starting a conversation? It would almost have to be non-verbal, I think...

Okay. Enough procrastination. Back to work.

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For a writing instructor, I can just imagine the horror and red ink that is spawned from the sight of Read More

For a writing instructor, I can just imagine the horror and red ink that is spawned from the sight of IM (Instant Messaging) shorthand on a writing assignment. From the goal of leading students into the world of communicating intelligently,... Read More


I think people figure out ways of how to do this even without the systems help. For instance - many messenger systems will let you post notes on your icon, so that if someone tries to chat with you, they will receive a "I'm so busy right now - will chat later" - or whatever you want it to say. You can still see their messages, but they know why you aren't answering.

I like Yahoo messenger because you can also log on in invisible mode - and still contact the people you want to without having to chat to everybody who should be on at the moment.
You can also send messages to people who are invisible - if they are not there, they will get them when they log on. I really like this - nothing makes my day more than logging on and having 10 notes with Hi's or other stuff popping up... and of course, there is no way of knowing if someone put on the invisible shield or not - unless they reply to your message:-) Very convenient.

iChat does let you change messages, and indicate "away" status. But I'm thinking of something proactive--a way of saying "hi" without having to actually open a chat window and feel like you have to continue the messaging beyond that initial "wave-like" gesture...

I did like ICQs "privacy" mode, which did the same thing as the "invisibility" you describe in yahoo messenger. But I love the iChat interface, and really don't want to switch--I'd rather get them to add that functionality. :-)

There's an interesting article in the Dec 2002 IEEE Spectrum entitled "IM Means Business" that has some interesting examples of attention managers and IM.

No quick solutions for iChat, though.

I agree with you abut the Yahoo features, except one thing. With Trillian messenger I can still see people in Yahoo who are under Invisible Mode. Even though they appear Off Line, if you go over the nickname with your mouse and leave it there for 1 sec, you will see that it says Status: Online. That doesn't happen if you just use Yahoo, you need Trillian Messenger.


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