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Week 1: Semester 2

Welcome to the 2nd semester of Project Play!

We’re starting this semester off with instant messaging, or IM, as it’s also known.

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Semester 2, Week 1 Podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us ; we’re happy to help!

Put simply, IM is a way for people to communicate online in real-time. In other words, I type something to you. You see it and type something back. We can talk privately or we can join a group of other people, and all talk together.

Sounds simple enough, right? But how do you actually do this? Well, that’s what this week of Project Play is all about.

There are 4 steps to getting started with IM.

You don’t have to do all these steps to complete this week’s lesson, but please read them all and then check out the assignments.

Let me reiterate that—you don’t have to do all these steps to complete this week’s lesson. It’s just to give you an understanding of the process.

Step 1. Decide what service(s) you want to use for IM.

There are four primary providers of IM:

AIM (from AOL)
• Google Talk
MSN Messenger
• Yahoo! Messenger

Right now, you can only IM people who use the same service you do. So, if I’m using AOL’s instant messaging service, called AIM, then I can only talk to other AIM users. Same thing is true for the rest of the services.

Luckily for libraries thinking about providing IM reference, there is software that allows you to log into all of these services at one time. That way, people using any of the IM services can chat with you. Two examples of this software are Trillian and Meebo.

Step 2. Decide if you want to download software or not.

Most of these services have two versions: one that is web-based (so you don’t download and install software), and one that requires software installed onto your computer.

The web-based version may not have some advanced functionality that the installed version has, but it’s more secure and easier to use. When you’re just starting with IM, we recommend the web-based version. Here are the URLS for the web-based versions:

Remember Meebo and Trillian that I mentioned above? Well, Meebo is a web-based product, while Trillian is a piece of software you download and install. So, if you’re interested in trying one of these products, we’d recommend Meebo (and there’s another reason why you’ll find out about in a minute!)

Step 3. Create an account or screen name with the service(s) of your choice.

The process to create an account varies, depending on the service you choose, but you typically have to pick a screen name (which is what you’ll be called in the IM world), a password, answer a few questions, and agree to the terms of service. You can create an account by visiting any of the links in Step 2 above.

Step 4. Login to the service, and you’re ready to go!

Once you’ve created an account, you should be able to login to the service you’ve chosen.
What you can do with IM depends on what software and service you’re using, but there are a couple of standard things in all services, like:

  1. A buddy list: Your buddy list is where you keep the list of people you talk to on IM. You have to know someone’s account or screen name to add them to your buddy list. Once you have that information, there should be an icon at the top of the buddy list (usually with a plus sign on it) to easily add buddies.Once you’ve added someone to your buddy list, you can start a conversation with them by double-clicking on them in the buddy list.
  2. A status indicator: Because IM is real-time communication, it’s important to let people know if you’re available or not. If you aren’t logged into the service, then you won’t appear to be available. But, once you’ve logged in, you will appear to be available unless you say otherwise. The status indicator lets you say that you’re not available or in a meeting or busy or whatever you would like to say.

One last thing about Meebo
There is one last thing I want to tell you about Meebo—it has a really cool feature called the Meebo Me widget. Here’s what it looks like:

If you have a Meebo account, Meebo will make this little widget for you. You can then put the widget on any web page or blog. The especially cool thing is that anyone can IM you through your widget. They don’t need to have an IM account on any service!! This is a great feature thing for libraries with IM reference services. You can put this on any page on your website, and anyone can contact you.

Check out how David Lee King is using the Meebo Me widget in his library’s catalog.

Be sure to read the blog post’s comments for lots of other great ideas on how to use Meebo Me and IM.

Required Assignments:

1. Try IMing someone.

a. You can use the MeeboMe widget above to IM me (Stef at SCLS), or
b. Try the other MeeboMe widgets at our contacts page to IM Beth at OWLS, Joy at WLS, and Jean at SCLS, or
c. Try some from the “Libraries Using MeeboMe for Embedded Chat” at the Library Success Wiki.
(P.S. – This is a great place to find more information on how libraries are using IM —scroll down to the “Specific Blog Posts/Articles to check out” section.)

2. Write in your blog about your experience trying IM, and how you think IM could be useful in libraries or in general.

Optional Assignments:

1. Create an account or screen name for yourself for one or more of the IM services. Once you’ve done that, add one of the Project Play team to your buddy list. (NOTE: If you’re in Winnefox, AOL’s AIM Pro is recommended as the de facto system-wide standard. For SCLS and OWLS, you can create any an account with any service.)

2. Create a Meebo account for yourself, and a MeeboMe widget. Once you log into Meebo, you’ll see a “meebo me” link right at the top to get you started.

Fun Extra:

Hey PP BFFs!
IM is not an AFZ, so CTO, ICYC: List of Chat Acronyms
[JSYK, not all of the acronyms on this list are completely clean, so IMS if anything is offensive!]
MHOTY for joining us in Semester 2!! There will be some PANS, and, hopefully, some GOL, too.

Tags: AIM, chat, Gtalk, IM, instant messaging, Meebo, MSN, Trillian, Yahoo

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22 Responses to “Week 1: Semester 2”

  1. The Semester 2 participants list isn’t working - there are double http:// in every link.

  2. I see that in the SCLS list. We’ll get that fixed right away. Thanks for letting us know! :)

  3. All fixed :) I checked all the links and they seem to be working. Let me know if I missed any.

  4. If I have an established AIM account, do I need to create a new one. I have been IMing since I first started AOL in 98, lol. :) and all that other fun stuff!

  5. The meebo widget above isn’t working for us here at MPL-Central. We see the graphic, but can’t type in it. It continually says “connecting to meebo.” Help!

  6. I am not sure how to get the meebo widget set up. I get signed in but I am stuck on where to paste the code on the website (is this my bloglines account?) in order for the widget to appear.

  7. Hi Sue - You would be pasting the code either into a web page (like the children’s page on the APL web site) or you can add it to the sidebar of your blog. If you’d like more help, just give me a call! :)

  8. Hey pinky - I sometimes have that problem and have to either refresh the page or close my browser and re-open. I haven’t been able to figure out what the deal is, but refreshing usually helps.

  9. I also had trouble setting up the Meebo widget on my blog. You need to go to your new post, then templates, and add and arrange elements (HTML button). Thanks to Sara K. for showing me this.

  10. Here’s how you can add the MeeboMe widget to your Blogger blog:
    1. Log in to your Blogger account
    2. On the Blogger dashboard click “Layout”
    3. On the “Add and Arrange Page Elements” page, click “Add a Page Element” on the right-hand side
    4. In the “Choose a New Page Element” popup window, click the “Add to Blog” button for “HTML/JavaScript”
    5. In the “Configure HTML/JavaScript” popup window,
    a. In the Title field, type in a title like “Contact Me”
    b. In the Content field, copy & paste the “Widget Embed” code for your MeeboMe widget (If you need to re-find this, log in at and click “Meebo Me Widgets”)
    c. Click the “Save Changes” button
    6. Check your blog to see if the widget is placed where you want it
    7. Have fun!

  11. Well, the widget appears in my blog, but I can’t actually get it to work. When I try to sign on to Meebo, I get this message for each of the possible accounts:
    Meebo could not create a connection with this IM service.

    The name or password may be incorrect or you may have signed into the service from somewhere else.

    Any ideas?

  12. Hi Karen!

    What steps did you do when you set up Meebo?
    Did you create separate accounts with AIM, MSN, etc?
    And then set up a Meebo account?

    It might be easier for us to troubleshooting this issue one-on-one. Could you email or IM or call me sometime?


  13. Thank you Joy and Elizabeth for the information on how to get the meebo widget to work. Now I can complete the lesson and soon I will make a new post to my blog.

  14. Hi Stef,
    While I was successful adding the widget to my blog, with Joy’s help from the directions above, I’m still struggling with the IM piece. I opened an IM account with Google Talk, & then did the same at, and then received the same error message as Karen did yesterday. If I can’t figure it out, I’ll call you or Jean.

  15. Meebo is not the most user friendly site especially to get a widget.

  16. Fun, fun I’m trying to catch up on my lessons today. I really enjoy IMing. Posted my widget to my blog without to much trouble thanks to the instructions above.

  17. Aim wouldn’t let me set up an account. Now I can’t get Google talk to give me an account either. I have working on lesson 1 for 3 hours, with very few staff interuptions, PP only. Everyone else seems to have fun. My turn will come, I am sure of it.


  18. Hi Lucy -

    I’m sorry to hear AIM and Google Talk haven’t been playing nice! Please let me know when it would be a convenient time for us to do a VNC session together — I’ll be glad to help get you set up with an IM account. In the meantime, feel free to use my MeeboMe widget to try out IM.


  19. Hello,

    Getting a really late start, but I can see from the Project Play spreadsheet that I am not the only one. Whooooo hooooo! Thanks to Joy for the play-by-play (can we make up a new chat acronym–PBP???). Worked like a charm (this woulod be another one! — WLAC). They need some of us old timers to make up some old timer acronyms. LOL

  20. [...] Map shows where IMs have been sent or received over the past 15 minutes [...]

  21. My son tells me about an open source program that does what Trillian does. It’s called Pidgin. It’s free unlike Trillian Pro. It’s at

  22. Hi PJ! Thanks for sharing the info about pidgin. There are certainly more and more options out there for this kind of thing, but what I really like about meebo is that it doesn’t require a download of any software. It’s all web-based and easy to use from any computer. Having said that, I think it’s important to try a variety of tools, then pick the one that you feel is the right fit for _you_. :)

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