I had always preferred IM over email (somewhat surprising for an introvert). I guess efficiency in communication and lack of email’s faults had trumped excessive social aspect.
So why plenty of people resist IM so much?
I had never like email:
- slow, I remember times when it took hours for it to get to destination;
- unreliable, it is still not uncommon for email to go poof;
- usually in a form of free but advertisement-packed service.
And so on.
IM is not really much different from email. Just messages going back and forth.
What different is:
- presence - you don’t send message to an address, you send it to a person who is probably online (which you can actually see as status);
- it is organized as conversation, not a bunch of separate messages with dozen of Re: on top as in email.
It is more personal, more focused and easier to keep up with.
There is however one giant downside. In instant messaging people tend to do what they want instead of what they need to. It is so very easy to slip into chatting. Compare weather, send a reply to phrase that doesn’t really need one, discuss your cat’s food preferences.
Complaints about IM is productivity killer are confusing tool with how we use it. There is nothing bad about fast and short communication, it is really about using that for killing time.
Reserve your contact list for people you really need to contact, downsize your conversations to serving actual purpose and you will discover that IM can be excellent and efficient tool.
What do you prefer email or IM? Why? Share your opinion in the comments.