E Communication Then And Now Literature Review Computer Science Essay

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The world revolves around computers and its numerous expanding technologies. It has become an essential part of professional and corporate life, with no age limit. There has been a drastic change in technology in recent years that has made it popular with millions of people around the world and has encouraged people of various age groups to make use of it. Computer technology has come up with different operating systems like Microsoft's Windows, Linux, UNIX and Apple's MacOS that are very user friendly and allow even a layman to use them with ease. Recent computer technologies, along with several applications have made things very stress-free for everyone. The Internet is one such technology that has contributed enormously to the computer world and the Instant Messaging tool has taken it to a different level all together.

When you talk about communicating over long distances Instant Messaging (IM) is one such tool the world relies on, making people feel connected even if they are miles apart. There are various tasks that are supported by Instant Messaging, like keeping in constant touch with old friends and family no matter how far one is, organizing unplanned virtual social meetings not to overlook the outstanding features like questioning, coordinating, clarifying and scheduling conferences that can be done instantly. Media is another feature that enhances communication especially when the conversation needs more interaction. This literature review is about the advancement of Instant Messaging, its various tools and features and the security concerns relating to them.

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Key words: Instant Messaging, communication, interface, video conferencing, IM bots, contact information, Fone Pal.

IMPORTANT IDEAS:

A study on how the Instant Messaging tool is important for effective collaboration at a work place, different features that supports informal communication and how they are used in various instances was conducted [1]. According to the authors, face-to-face interaction with the client is important even though the client is in contact through email. The researchers emphasized the fact that there is continuous exchange of information during a conversation, so an integration of a phone and an Instant Messaging system is a perfect combination during this type of conversation. If the user is interacting with a single client then he can switch between different media that lets him do two different things simultaneously.

For example while a user is working on a project and needs a very minute piece of information from the client to carry on with his project he would have to spend time writing an email and waiting for the response or make a phone call and get into an unwanted conversation which results in loss of time. With help of the Instant Messaging system the response is rather quick and immediate without much delay. Through this tool one can keep in contact with family and friends even while at work. To initiate a conversation the availability of a person on the other side is very important and at times interruptions either external or a network failure can contribute to a communication problem [1].

There is never an end to either conducting an interview or attending one. People want to get hired, or want to move from one job to another. The advantages and implications of using Instant Messaging as a tool for conducting interviews was investigated [2] and the study showed that communication among multiple persons simultaneously across long distances is made easy with the help of this tool. An actual interview is a face-to-face interaction, and the focus of the interviewer is all on the respondent's way of communicating, tone, body language, presence of mind, quickness in replying and eye contact. During this conversation the interviewer shoots a number of questions prepared well in advance, and also records or jots down important aspects of the interview.

An interview conducted via Instant Messenger may not be as effective as a face-to-face interview but it has helped overcome practical challenges like travelling long distances for a face-to-face interview, and the cost and time spent over the interview travel. Another advantage is that it allows the user to switch between screens and multitask. During an Instant Messaging conversation the interviewer can indulge in more than one conversation or even continue with another task while the respondent is preparing to reply to his question [2] [1]. Most of the respondents in this study also felt more relaxed multitasking during the interview and also liked the fact that at any point of time they could scroll back to read what they were asked or what they had replied.

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Talking about work place scenarios, a distributed collaboration and session management are both very essential. Hansen and Damm [3] proposed a session management design on the existing tools and interfaces after conducting an investigation on the Instant Messaging tool at a work place.

The above figure [3] is an example of an Instant Messaging Client, Yahoo (Yahoo Messenger). The box on the right displays the list of klaus_hansen2001's friends and their respective statuses and the user's status as well. To start a conversation with a friend, the user has to double click on the friend's name in the list. The left box displays the conversation between the user and his friend. This way the user can interact with more than one friend at a time comfortably.

Another added feature of the Instant Messaging system is the video conferencing technology that has made people's lives very comfortable making them feel connected with family and friends who live abroad. Surveys were conducted in the US to understand video conferencing routines at homes to design future domestic communication technologies [4]. With the availability of a varied range of free software such as Google talk, Skype and Windows Messenger, video conferencing has become a necessity rather than an option. The participants who were interviewed enjoyed the video conferencing feature over talking on the phone.

A study in 2005 [5] revealed that Instant Messaging has proved to be efficient for collaboration and an enhanced system for interaction which supports learning and the user's ability to communicate effectively. They also observed that it made a great impact on the corporate world as well as various social situations. The Instant Messaging tool is advancing rapidly with a varied number of applications and features added to it. One such application, the IM bots is used in chat rooms to interact with many users simultaneously; this makes it more user friendly and encourages novice users to participate as well. IM bots helps the user to know the status of the person with whom he is chatting. That way the user knows if he/she can initiate a conversation or not [3]. This user interface however does face security, privacy and access control issues during social interactions.

SECURITY AND PRIVACY CONCERNS:

With the increase in the number of Internet users, the security of the data flowing across it has become a matter of deep concern. A protocol for informal communication called "off-the-record messaging" [6] has become very popular among students while they indulge in long chat sessions. People share various things like music, videos and pictures other than a mere social conversation. You could be at risk if your conversation is not secure enough and a third party is listening without you being aware, or even by clicking an email that is unwanted or spam, which could download a virus in the background and harm you computer.

The two most essential protections you can provide your computer with is a firewall and encrypting text. Firewall is a device that lets you enable or disable network transmissions based on a set of rules and ensures your network is secure. Cryptography is used to encrypt data before it is sent to someone and ensures no third party is involved in the process that can modify the data. SSL, PGP, S/MIME are the most frequently used cryptographic systems [6].

Every time we meet new people or old friends we make sure we note down their contact information to communicate with them regularly. However, managing so many relationships on a daily basis is difficult. Contact management plays a role differentiating the most important ones from the rest [7]. Contact management can make interactions with people simpler for the user by prioritizing and choosing important contacts using tools like electronic books, digital or physical address books, calendars or directories that allow the user to store only contacts that are most needed. These contacts are prioritized based on the frequency of communication or the duration of an interaction irrespective of whether the interaction is face-to-face or through a phone or an email. When someone hands you a business card or their contact information during a conference or meeting it is difficult to decide if you will be in constant touch with that person in future. So when every contact is noted down it piles up and makes the search for the most frequently used contacts difficult. Hence the contact book should be checked on a regular basis and stale contacts discarded.

ADVANCED FEATURES OF INSTANT MESSAGING: FONE PAL and PORTHOLES

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Interactive voice response combined with Instant messaging systems is another feature that sends a menu on the user's computer screen which permits the user to choose from the set of functionalities provided that help in combining human interaction and web based maintenance. The device named Fone Pal [8] enables one to chat as well as call a friend's computer screen. Customizing the Instant Messaging client has the advantage of controlling the interaction and synchronization, choice of devices to use and a flexible GUI design. The design and architecture of a Fone Pal is described in the following figure [8].

This figure illustrates how a user is interacting with a client on a front end using Instant Messaging (Yahoo Messenger) and at the same time he can call the clients computer and can also choose if the conversation can be audio based or visual based using the Fone Pal session.

General awareness plays a very important and prominent role in media space technology especially when information from work groups that are scattered needs to be accessed. Portholes system is a very good example for distributed awareness [9]. The Porthole architecture is explained in the following figure [9].

The architecture consists of a set of information servers, each with their respective responsibilities and domain clients. A domain contains all the information that is updated regularly which in turn is connected with clients who access this information. The client can locally access information within a particular domain even if the information is not local. Therefore various clients can access information from a single server. Video technology that adds support to conferencing is one such awareness activity that can be shared and viewed by different works groups irrespective of their location.

CONCLUSION:

The Instant Messenger has made a tremendous impact on the world of technology. Its added tools, features and applications that were once used for military researches have now become a part and parcel of people's lives. It has made communication with family and friends easier and made interviews a much easier and more pleasure task.It does have a few security issues due to the increasing number of users, but on the whole nothing could have made life simpler.