Meebo Firefox Sidebar

IM reference is slightly more complicated to set up than one might initially think.   Unlike e-mail addresses hosted by different companies, Instant Messaging accounts can only “talk” to other accounts on that same system.  So, for example, I can e-mail my friends with Gmail accounts with my Yahoo e-mail account, but if I want to chat, I have to use a google chat account.   To extrapolate further, if a library wanted to set up a virtual referece service utilizing Instant Messaging, they would have to set up (and have running) accounts with all the major chat services.

There is a way to get around that.  There are chat aggregators that allow someone to chat across Instant Messaging platforms.  A popular service is Meebo, and in my library we have been trying to utilize it.  I’m for the most part happy with Meebo.  It has the added benefit of providing widgets that can be implanted on websites so that a person can chat with you even if they do not have any Instant Messaging accounts or prefer to remain anonymous.

There has always been one problem with Meebo, though.  To use it, you have to keep a window open to Meebo.  Also, it is easy to miss a chat notification because there is no obvious visual clue that you have a new Instant Message.  However, that is now changed.  There is a new Firefox add-on that will notify you visually when you get an Instant Message through Meebo.  I can’t wait to try it out!

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