The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Instant Messenger sweeps campus

Walk down almost any floor of a residence hall and your ears are bombarded with the sound of electronic doors opening and closing and the tones of messages sent and received.

Students all over campus use instant messaging services such as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ and Microsoft Messenger to communicate to each other and to friends at other universities.

For students far from home, online instant messaging is a quick and convenient way to catch up with old friends. “IMing” is also an easy way to talk to multiple people at once and plan group events without multiple phone calls.

“I mainly use it to talk to friends that aren’t easy to get a hold of,” first-year Carrie Ince said over the sound of typing. “I mean I’m not going to just talk to people on campus, but it is a lot easier to find out what nine people are doing by IMing them instead of calling them.”

Some students also use messaging to help them study. It’s easy to ask a classmate a quick question about an assignment or upcoming project. But for many students, IMing quickly becomes a distraction. Busy students looking to stay signed on without the constant distraction of instant messages resort to using an away message to inform friends they are busy.

“You can leave it on with an away message and you can still get stuff done,” first-year Shannon Clark said. “It’s a lot easier [than other modes of communication] and it’s free, but I do think people aren’t communicating as much in person because of it.”

Unfortunately, the anonymity of instant messaging often results in poor etiquette.

“Instant messaging is almost like a cop out,” Ince said. “If you’re having a fight with a friend or something, then you don’t have to deal with it in person. I guess it just makes things easier on people when they don’t have to look at the other person.”

Around campus, messaging use differs between students and staff. Instant messaging is very common for students but can only be found in small pockets of the faculty and staff. Instead, e-mail is the communication of choice among the faculty.

“Most [staff] here use electronic mail, Yahoo! or AOL,” said Allen Gwinn, senior director of technology for SMU. “Webmail is by far the biggest Web-based service used on campus. The second is people reading the news and things like that.”

Bruce Meikle, manager of network services, said that faculty use Webmail to drop quick questions about things they are working on but not much else.

“We’ve been looking into tools to recommend [instant messaging], but as of yet, we have found nothing,” said Abby Kinney of ITS User Services in the Bradfield Computing Center. “But here, the help desk uses it to communicate with the consultants.”

Regardless of who uses such services now, upcoming changes might encourage more people to choose a provider. Not only does it help the sales of computer accessories and products, but companies such as Logitech have come up with ways to incorporate live video feed with normal text boxes, which is something that homesick students will be happy to use.

Logitech is marketing its product to companies like AOL and while there are no plans yet, AOL is looking into the product. As instant messaging becomes more user-friendly, its popularity will only continue to rise on campus, in both residence halls and academic departments.

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