[October 2005] As a community group you may need to communicate with committee members, volunteers, ‘clients’, other community groups, the media, the general public, and you will use various means such as phone, email, text messages, faxes, letters, newsletters and websites.
A phonecall where you can discuss a topic and resolve any issues within a few minutes is immediate. But phonecalls can still be an expensive item on any budget, especially if you have to pay national or international toll fees.
Internet technology is revolutionising all aspects of our communications and real-time discussions are no exception. If both (or all) parties sign up for one or more free Instant Messaging (IM) services then you can hold a discussion in real time by typing. In a future Tip we’ll talk about VOIP, a way to make free phonecalls over the Internet.
Free chat software.
Chat services such as AOL Instant messenger (AIM), Jabber, Google Talk and others are free to join and easy to use. To use them you need some free software.
Mac OS X comes with the free iChat — just look in the Applications folder. Windows users may want to try out Trillian from www.ceruleanstudios.com.
Go to a service such as AIM at my.screenname.aol.com and sign up for a free screen name. Then enter the settings into the chat software.
Now you can connect to others and chat in real time by typing your messages. It’s also easy to send files via Instant Messaging, and with some systems you can even include audio and video.
Why pay for phonecalls when you could discuss topics free?
You can sometimes find Miraz available on chat at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See some screenshots at the online Panui archive.
Written by Miraz Jordan for CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, October 2005.