Talking to typing: Instant Messenger takes over

Three hundred years ago, letters were the only way to communicate long distances. They took weeks, even months, to pass hands between the sender and recipient. Now, more than 100 million people, including just about every college student you know, are chatting in real time over the internet.

The invention of the telephone came in the 1800s. But even that came at a cost, and talking to friends or relatives who lived far away could be expensive.

The internet was born not so long ago – it was developed for public use in the 1980s and early 1990s. People could communicate freely using e-mail, chat rooms and messenger services. Communicating became instantaneous.

Besides being able to talk online to several people at the same time, America Online’s Instant Messenger provides many services to make it easier to use. AIM Express allows users to access the program and personalized “buddy” lists without downloading the program onto the computer. This service is useful on shared computer labs around campus since downloading is prohibited on those computers.

CompuServe, Netscape and AOL screen names can be used on AIM. With certain service plans, some cell phones like the Nokia 3390 Gold, available to Voicestream customers in the United States, support AIM.
Many GW students choose to use AOL Instant Messenger to communicate with others.

Many students read the news on the news ticker that is prompted by the program. There is also a stock quote ticker that runs on the bottom of AIM.

Because of the ethernet connection provided in most GW residence halls, many students find it cheaper and more convenient to use a keyboard rather than phone.

Freshmen Eleni Roulis and Deena Veso said they use AIM often. Roulis said she did not use AIM until she came to GW in the fall. She said she uses it more than the telephone and is on the program every day, although it sometimes can be a big distraction from her schoolwork.
Veso said she talks to friends at GW, friends from home and family on the program.

“It’s right there and you can talk to more than one person at the same time,” Roulis said.

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