IM the Walrus

This semester, I joined 11 million other people and began IMing at work. Now, I’m not exactly new to the IM thing. Heck, I remember spending hours text-chatting two decades ago, and my ICQ number has an enviable number of digits. (Now if I could just remember the password.) But most people didn’t have my account number and I liked it that way.

This was the first semester I put an AIM address on my web site and my syllabi. Note that AIM is the preferred IM system on campus; it is distributed on the freshman CD-ROM, and the reference librarians are available on it. And so while students always *could* reach me on IM, now it’s much easier.

As a result, I get the pop-up window at all hours of the day. But I really don’t mind. Sometimes they get the answer they are looking for, and if I just don’t have the time, it’s much more flexible. I haven’t had an undergrad come in to office hours yet this year, but I’ve chatted on IM with several.

Lots of people talk about how new communication systems lead to more frantic lives. It seems to me that this is a perfect example of how that is not always the case. Frankly, students seem to drop by my office at the worst of times. As soon as I begin working to a deadline, I get students (and faculty) dropping by my office to chat. I always feel rude saying that I have to get to work on something, but IM does not require the same level of, well, politeness.

For me, at least so far, it has been a completely positive experience. Another faculty member prefers to chat with students on the phone. I don’t like to do this, but I may very well publish my Skype address next semester, just to see if I get any takers.

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  1. Posted 9/14/2004 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    thats kind of living as i do, with a beeper. there comes a point when it creates a sort of madness. you just want to chuck the thing into a lake and run naked into the woods and read waldon pond.

    there is also something about impolitness and technology in health care: it seems that persons get very cruel, or indifferent, after information overload.

    i’ve seen it in a particular blogger, attack me on line for no reason. its sort of like milgram’s experiments, but in real life.

    i could tell you lots of freaky stuff of what i see in nursing homes, or in hospitals…

  2. Posted 9/14/2004 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    hey, cool pew link; wonder if one could collect data in terms of urinary tract infections, text messages, and treatment choices in terms of antibiotics, and the time it takes for resistant organisms to proliferate throught out a nursing home, and then into the area hospitals. in particular, the over use of quinolones are creating such a phenomena, with extended spectrum resistant e coli (plama mediated so therefore it could get into more aggressive e coli, or even,,,god forbide, serratia sp.

  3. Posted 9/14/2004 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if anyone uses the screen name “imthewalrus.”

  4. Posted 9/15/2004 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I’m on skype! I’m either karamarie or kara marie (I always forget).
    I just learned about how Viewpoint spyware/adware is automatically installed with AOL IM – even when you delete it, it reinstalls every time you reload AIM. This is unacceptable. I’ll be moving permanently to Trillian after my groups are done.

  5. Posted 9/15/2004 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    The idea of IM being invasive lies mostly in the user’s mind. Because the user feels the need to be polite, one might be pressured into answering all their IMs. Just remember: You don’t have to bother replying IMs! I feel that as long as you acknowledge the information sent to you, and only response selectively, that’s enough. Part of the problem was due to how the IM technology came about before a tradition. In which case, I feel that people don’t know how to respond to it. Some people don’t use it entirely, while some find it a bane yet are bound to it. The whole point of using new technology is to make your life more comfortable, make it so!

    On another note: Do use SKYPE! From the makers of Kazaa (yeah right!), SKYPE is a killer audio chat application which works on Mac/PC.

  6. jennie
    Posted 9/15/2004 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    i love skype. it’s free and i can talk forever to my friends and family in taiwan and california. now it has mac version too. although it’s kind of annoying someone you don’t know keeps bugging you, i would say don’t put the pix on it.

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