Open Thread: How Do You Chat?


The addition of Gmail Voice and Video Chat to Google’s list of services brought back to mind a question I’ve been thinking about for a while: have we gone past the saturation point in having different ways to chat with people? Even if you count only real-time ways to talk to people, there are a pile of instant messaging applications, more audio chat options and conference call providers than you can shake a stick at, and video options including Skype, Oovoo, and Gmail – to name a few.

And that’s not to mention just walking down the hall to talk to someone in person, which is not an option for a lot of web workers.

So, given all the choices: which ones do you actually use to communicate with friends, family, clients, and co-workers? And how do you decide? Is it technical superiority, multi-platform availability, installed base, or something else? Do you find different chat tools work better for different tasks or types of conversations? Or are you firmly stuck in a model where realtime chat wastes your time, and you settle for email, or picking up the telephone when you really need to talk to someone?



Digsby + Messenger (since Digsby’s Right-to-left support isn’t satisfactory, and most of my chatting is done on Messenger, right to left).
Digsby = 3 email accounts, twitter, facebook, ICQ, AIM, Facebook chat and GTalk.

Brandon J. Mendelson

Twitter. Everything else just seems useless.

And about video blogs: Let’s face it, not all of us are able / willing / or capable to converse through video, so I don’t ever see that taking off. Some people, myself included, are not photogenic and prefer the written word.


I use the GTalk client primarily to chat/call my business partners while at a computer. Skype for conference/meetings with fellow webworkers.

What I can’t figure out is why Google hasn’t transfered any of these new features from Web-Gtalk to the Gtalk client… it’s really getting annoying.. that I *still* can’t group chat in the Gtalk client.


I use Digsby as I have contacts all over the place, msn, aim, ichat, gtalk, and more recently facebook – people like slacking I guess, and more people use facebook than any other im clients!


Most of my friends, family and contacts use MSN, so thats my 1st choice but I will use skype or google if asked.


I use and Windows Live Messenger(MSN). On rare occasion I will use Ventrillo.

90% of my contacts are on the MSN IM network, so I have that choice made for me.

I use Meebo at work to access MSN because of firewall issues.

Alan Bollinger

Personally I roll with pidgin ( It allows me to use ALL IM services seamlessly. Only other client I use is Skype, but if Pidgin supported it I would dump it too. I use chat primarily with clients who are already on IM as I find that people not already setup rarely get it – or use it.

Pete Johnson

Oooh, good question. You could ask the same thing about social networking sites as many of them have chat as part of them.

I choose two and a half. Well, to be more accurate, one is chosen for me at work but that choice prohibits me from interacting with anybody who doesn’t work for HP.

I’ve also become addicted to Twitter, but synched with Facebook status (hence the half) and find that I get more replies there that start conversations than I do natively on Twitter. For loose connections, I really like that model as it lets everybody participate on their terms as active or inactive as they’d like and responding when it’s convenient for them.

There are lots of other choices than that, but I don’t seem to have a critical mass of people I’m interested in interacting with anywhere else. I think that’s the key, your group of friends and co-workers end up making a chat choice for you based on where they collectively decide to plant themselves.


Pete Johnson
Hewlett-Packard Company
Marketing and Internet Platform Services IT
Portals and Applications Chief Architect
Personal Blog:

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