IM or instant messaging has been around for a long time, longer than the Internet, but most people came in contact with it as Internet chat. It is a computer to computer or user to user communication service that allows one to send messages in the form of text in real time. Many people communicate using text such as sending text messaging or emails to each other from their cellular phones or computers using chat applications. With instant messaging people can have what may be more like a phone conversation in text rather than audio.
Instant messaging is often run as a separate program as in AOL Instant Messaging, and more often today, as part of an email service such as in Gmail or Yahoo Mail. Today, many people use instant messenger services as part of a social networking site such as Facebook. Regardless of how the service is provided, a contact list must be developed and users get information on who is available for messaging, in other words who is online or not. Many instant messaging softwares are also getting equipped with Web 2 properties like showing people status messages, their pictures, offline messaging etc. Some web messengers like Miranda IM not only allow people to communicate with each other but are equipped with many useful add-ons to enable users to sort and manage their contacts information. While there are some chat applications like XChat that let people get connected to huge IRC networks and chat rooms while enabling them to do private one-to-one chats as well. We can also find chat application Pidgin that connects people using different chat applications over different networks eliminating the need to create separate IDs for different chat applications.
Besides chat applications, social networks text messaging and email messaging services, we can find more options for chat these days. These options include video chat, where users can interact with their contacts by sharing real-time video and audio, much like a traditional phone cal with the addition of a video interface. This service can also be found separately from companies such as Skype.
For avid computer users that use instant messenger services they may find themselves fragmented, opening various services to stay connected to various lists of people. In order to minimize your confusion and streamline signing on, there are many services that allow you to interact with your various chat services. Some services, such as meebo or Digsby, state they can connect all your personal communication services including messaging, email and social media all in to one account. If you use instant messaging service, then you know the need for finding some simplicity between all your contact lists.