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This Ain't No Party

No one will ever accuse me of being an early adopter or fashion-forward where gadgets and software concerned. I may lust for an iPod, but I refuse to pay Apple's prices. Still, I had to be dragged, mewling and scowling, to the instant messaging party.

Some party.I have to say that after a year of sporadic use, I really don't get it. I have friends and co-workers who find it indispensable and love the fact that IM doesn’t have an inbox and a sent-messages file and all the clutter that comes with e-mail. "I just click on a name, ask a quick question and bail," a friend crows. "There's not a long thread I have to sort through later to find what I need, and there's no copy of it to worry about." She's wrong on that last point, but that's not what bugs me.

The issue boils down to this: Isn't there enough artificial urgency in our work and personal lives? For deskbound types like me, e-mail provides as much immediacy as I need. I look at my e-mail. It's always on. It's the primary way I communicate with my clients, sources and colleagues. If I should step away from my desk, god forbid, then call me. I check voice mail. I usually respond to it.

Maybe I have too short an attention span. A two-year-old might often look amazingly focused in comparison. That being said, I don't need another pop-up application sitting on my desktop posing the intellectually challenging inquiry of "Sup?"

A secondary complaint: I've used both the AOL and Yahoo IM clients and they both have a weird way of logging off or quitting without reason or explanation. If I wanted to use an application that I have to constantly relaunch, I'd have made Internet Explorer my default browser.

Call me. E-mail me. Just don't IM me -- my status bar will read "Permanently away from IM Land." If I ever turn it on again.

Terry Sweeney is editor of CMP's Storage Pipeline web site, where he rants at slightly greater length about the dubious value of virtualization.