IMazon, anyone?

Instant messaging is one of those things that many younger web users simply can’t image living without. Although it can trace its parentage to the bulletin boards and online services of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, it only really emerged as a distinct entity in it’s own right a little under ten years ago when four Israeli programmers released ICQ to an unsuspecting world. Before long, other pretenders for the IM crown appeared, including AIM, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. Like many, I spend a fair proportion of my days and evenings with one form of instant messenger or another running behind whatever else I’m doing. During work hours, I use Jabber and Lotus Sametime to talk to my team and colleagues the world over via a secure intranet connection. For family and other folks beyond the firewall and when I’m on my own time, I rely heavily on Trillian to hook me into the AOL, Yahoo, MSN and ICQ networks and Skype to provide VOIP connectivity when I need it – and a great job they do too.

That said, there are folks out there who are pushing and stretching instant messaging, moving away from the established chat, voice, video and ftp stuff and tackling enterprise-style projects. One of these folks is fellow London blogger Riaan van Schoor, whose company Inside C is developing Person to Application Messaging (PAMs) solutions. These ‘technolutions’ enable the use of IM clients to interact with data sources and websites which normally require portal access. If this sounds a little dry and lacking in fizz, there’s one example you can try immediately that might help demonstrate the possibilities. One implementation of Inside Messenger lets you search your regional Amazon site from an IM client window with no need to fire up a browser until you’ve found the item you want to purchase.

Rather than take my word for it, fire up AOL or MSN in your favoured IM client and try the following:

  1. Add the following buddies to the relevant contact list:
  2. Fire up a chat window for that buddy, type the word ‘domain’ and hit the ‘Send’ button. You will receive an automated message in return offering you a choice of localised Amazon domains to choose from. Enter the number for your choice.*
  3. You’ll now be offered the main menu from which you can search for CDs, books, DVDs, iPods, software, electronics and more.
  4. Go explore.

As you will see from the screen grab below, where I’m shopping for a Kasabian CD, the Inside Messenger PAM is simple to access and use. For those who don’t need bells and whistles or prefer less ‘noise’ in their online shopping, this might be an indication of another way to interact online. If you need a little more warmth in you online dealings, simply type “call me XXX” using your name and it will be used from then on. If you like what you see and have an idea for an enhancement, why not post it to the Inside Messenger forum?


* Riaan mailed me to point out that “you don’t have to type DOMAIN. You can type anything to get started, it will force you to the menu at some point.” There goes my career as a technical manual writer!

my lo-fi ears are listening to Club Foot/Kasabian

One Response to “IMazon, anyone?”

  1. Brenda says:

    you forgot about powwow..
    it did IM and voice way back in 1993.

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