Yes, we do! Russ was just going on and on about how cool Yahoo Messenger was, so everyone downloaded it, logged in, added one another to their address books in wild abandon, dug up old and cruddy webcams and sat looking at other people looking at them.
The weird thing was that we were still on #mobitopia, using the video an unbelievably bandwidth-intensive backchannel.
After a while we got together for a voice sessions, stretching the bandwidth limits to the max. Don’t know if it’ll work when the US isn’t celebrating Thanksgiving. Waves to Russ (San Fransisco), Frank (Germany), Anthony (Hawaii), and Tarek (UAE).
I don’t know if IM will be the new mode of communication for me personally. I like the group chat nature of IRC, where you can fade in and out of conversations as your interest in them wanes or waxes. PM and rarely-used channels can be used for one-on-one conversations. In IM, one-on-one is the norm.
Update: I got linklove from Russ. I must say I agree with him about the lack of an automatic group chat. A well-run IRC channel (my experience of these is limited to #mobitopia, so I could be arguing from a really limited data set here) is a like a nice pub or a university common room. Sometimes there are people to talk to. Sometimes they’re there, but reading a paper or chatting with someone else. Entering a channel is like opening a door. It signals the fact that you’re there, and other people can acknowledge you directly or talk to you later.
In contrast, IM is like someone calling you on the phone while you’re at home working. Granted, you can leave a message on your machine, or simply not answer some calls, but it’s still an interruption.
For some people and situations, IM is really great. For me however, I don’t think it’s the thing. I prefer to interact with others either asynchronously via email, or loosely coupled, via IRC.
However, setting up an IRC network (even if this is just a channel and some users) is a way bigger hassle than using a well designed IM system like Yahoo’s or MSN’s. They take care of the hassle for you, and you accept the compromise or do your own thing. I happen to believe that the group dynamics of the Mobitopia blog/channel would have been hard to create with just IM. But ultimately, it’s not technology that creates groups and ideas, but people. IM is simply another tool.
P.S. How much would you bet on a Google IM network? It would be interesting, but then the realization would dawn that Google is just Yahoo! v.2…