This reading discusses topics presented in the article “Effects of gratification-opportunities and gratifications-obtained on preferences of instant messaging and e-mail among college students” by Olivine Wai-Yu Lo and Louis Leung.

After reading the article on the reasons young people choose IM over email, I would have to say that I generally agree with what the study shows.  The younger generation prefers IM to email because they like the instant gratification one receives when chatting via IM.  You type something, whomever you are speaking to recieves it right away and responds almost instantly.  I look at this as being practical.  It is the tool that most accurately mimics human conversation.  Especially with features such as chat rooms to allow multiple people to engage in the conversation, as well as most mobile devices allowing IM service.  Its as if friends can have an after class discussion, without being on school grounds, or at the mall, or any other place that young people congregate at to talk amongst themselves.

Another reason that I prefer IM to email, is that there are less barriers in place between messages.  There are no spam filters, no long gaps in pieces of conversation, and if something is not 100% clear in a message, I do not have to write back and then wait for a response for something to be cleared up.  Therefore work situations can go a lot smoother.

The level of interactivity offered is the biggest driving force in preferring IM over email, and the article had this to say on this point:

e-mail lacks the majority of functions that IM can provide, especially those considered as ‘interactivity’ items such as webcam, voice chat, conference chat, on line games, and voice mail. This deficiency can determine the choice of IM and e-mail.

This reiterate the fact that IM mirrors real face to face conversation, something email cannot presently offer effectively.  The sociability of IM is what its users like over email-instant response as well as knowing when their friends are online and free to converse with.  In my opinion and experience, it is this sociability that makes IM so popular.