Instant messaging (or just IM) is ancient compared to other web 2.0 technologies. The real-time nature of IM appeals to users desiring a fast and (nearly) free communication tool.
When I was in college, I used IM regularly. This was a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends during school breaks when we all scattered across the country. And, certainly a great way to avoid long distance fees. Often, our chats would turn into a phone call or vice versa. I must admit there were times when I would be on the phone with one friend and chatting with another online. Multitasking with technology = brilliant.
Since then, I have used IM intermittently for various uses. With IM, I have quickly compared wedding reception locations and shopped for a DJ. I have also used other libraries’ chat services, including Ohio’s KnowItNow. The convenience of IM is wonderful!
As a reference librarian with the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, I have staffed Ask a Librarian since January 2006.