23 Things for Archivists

Thing 2: Online Chat / Instant Messaging


For details, see the Meebo support page for Meebo Discontinued Products

The information below is still valid for instant messaging (IM) in general, such as how it works and why you might want to use it. If you want to try out a chat product, you will need to pick a specific service, such as Yahoo Messenger. The drawback is that your users must be using the same service or you cannot chat with each other, or you must have accounts with all of the major services. For some other alternatives (eBuddy, Instantbird, etc.), see the ghacks.net post “With Meebo Shutting Down, Here are some alternatives.”

By Kate Theimer

Online chat and instant messaging (IM) services allow users to exchange text messages in real time using the Web, as opposed to texting using cell phones. This allows for synchronous communication, as opposed to e-mail exchanges, which are asynchronous.  If you’re a Facebook user, you may already be familiar with Facebook’s chat feature, or may know of  one of the many chat/IM services—such as AIM, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, or Yahoo Messengerbut we will be using Meebo to demonstrate chat. Meebo is [was] commonly used in libraries and is used by some archives as well.

Meebo has several advantages as a vehicle for online chat. First it does not require you to download any software on to your own computer (an example of cloud computing services). Second, it allows you to channel any existing IM and chat accounts you have through Meebo. This is a convenient feature for people with many accounts, but it also allows some people who are behind firewalled networks to use it as a means of connecting with their blocked IM services.

In 2006 Meebo launched the “meebo me” widget, which allows users to embed a version of Meebo on any website (see ours below). And in 2007 Meebo incorporated “Meebo Rooms”—chat rooms where multiple invited users can participate in one online discussion.

We also will be using Meebo as your way to communicate with a mentor. If you have a question or just want to “chat” about a Thing, click on the Meebo chat box below.


  1. Sign up for [an account with one of the chat/instant messaging services list above]  a Meebo account (if you don’t already have one).
  2. Make arrangements to practice chatting with with a colleague.


  1. If you use Meebo chat for your archives reference, you might want a record of some of the chats you have with patrons. Check out the [FAQs for the service you chose for] instructions.

Blog Prompts

  • Share your chat and experiences on your blog—including your own experiences using chat or IM outside of the 23 Things.
  • How do you think this would work for your archives? Can you see ways in which the chat room feature would be useful for you?
  • Where would you put the chat box for your archives? -on your website, inside your online catalog, on your Facebook page?


  1. Having problems adding the Meebo widget to your Blogger blog? Go to “Design,” then “Add a gadget,” then “HTML/Java Script.” (That’s why you can’t put some of the widgets on a WordPress blog, because WordPress doesn’t accept the Java script.) Make sure what you paste into the box is the code for the Meebo widget, not the URL. The Meebo widget page will give you the code in a little box (“Congratulations! Here’s the code you need …). Just copy all of what’s in that box and paste it into the HTML/Java Script widget box. Be sure to click the orange “Save” button at the top.

  2. […] keep around, and keeping the chat window up is not that much more work for us or our students. In Thing 2, Kate Theimer plays up this use of the MeeboMe Widget, including the great advantage that Meebo is […]

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