Instant messaging

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Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time direct text-based communication between two or more people using personal computers or other devices, along with shared software clients. The user's text is conveyed over a network, such as the Internet. More advanced instant messaging software clients also allow enhanced modes of communication, such as live voice or video calling.

Contents

Definition

IM falls under the umbrella term online chat, as it is a real-time text-based networked communication system, but is distinct in that it is based on clients that facilitate connections between specified known users (often using "Buddy List", "Friend List" or "Contact List"), whereas online 'chat' also includes web-based applications that allow communication between (often anonymous) users in a multi-user environment.

Overview

Instant messaging (IM) is a collection of technologies used for real-time text-based communication between two or more participants over the Internet, or other types of networks. Of importance is that online chat and instant messaging differs from other technologies such as e-mail due to the perceived synchronicity of the communications by the users –chat happens in real-time. Some systems permit messages to be sent to people not currently 'logged on' (offline messages), thus removing some of the differences between IM and e-mail (often done by sending the message to the associated e-mail account).

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