Browse Prior Art Database

Instant Messaging Controls and Indicators

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000032976D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Nov-19
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Nov-19
Document File: 2 page(s) / 36K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Instant messaging has taken over the workplace and the internet in a big way. It involves two or more parties or persons exchanging messages ("chatting") in real time. Normally all of these parties have to be logged on to a messaging server before they can exchange messages. This form of messaging is viewed as a convenient, readily available, and economical way of communicating for teaming, collaboration, and in general conducting business in the workplace. However, once a party logs onto a messaging server, there is little control of who is able to contact him or her. This paper describes a few methods for providing messaging controls so that the parties do not feel overwhelmed by the messages that they receive, while at the same time not blocking all messages. Further, methods of automatically indicating the "busyness" of a party are also provided.

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Instant Messaging Controls and Indicators

Instant Messaging involves two or more parties or users exchanging messages ("chatting") in real time. Normally all of these parties have to be logged on to a messaging server before they can exchange messages. This mode of communication is generally very convenient; however, frequently users of such systems encounter the following problems:

A party gets bombarded with messages from multiple people trying to contact it. Such a situation


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directly contributes to increased stress because of the multiple parallel conversations, requiring constant context switching in the mind.

A party engaged in messaging, or intending to start a messaging session with a second party does


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not have any idea or indication of how busy that party is, unless the second party explicitly sets a "Busy" or "Do not disturb" status indicator.

In some cases, a user of the system may welcome instant messages only from a key group of parties


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(such as his or her immediate team, manager, etc. during project crunch times), while wanting to indicate to the rest of the world that he or she is busy.

People handle the above problems in the following ways:

People just avoid logging on to the messaging server. This robs a key advantage of instant


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messaging -- that of finding people and answers to get your job done when you need them, or even determining if they are around.

People ignore received messages. This leaves the initiating party "hanging", with no response or


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indication of it.

This invention outlines two key methods to address these problems, and allows a party to control or throttle the reception of messages. These include: - Customizing status indicators based on individual contacts or groups of contacts : Ability to setup status indicators based on individual contacts ("buddies") or group of contacts. The groups could be user-defined or based out of a directory repository such as a corporate repository. This provides a mechanism to regulate, and also indicate ("beam") to different people/groups different messages instantly. - Automatic "busyness" indication: This is based on the number of concurrent active conversations and other criteria. This emulates the following social behavior -- suppose you want to meet a party physically in his office and you go to his office. But if he is already talking to another party, you try to meet with him later. Such status can also be automatically garnered from a calendaring system such as Lotus Notes.

Customizing status indicators based on individual contacts or groups of contacts : This allows a party to setup status indicators intended to specific other parties or groups. This is explained by means of an example below.

Consider a subject party called "Joe", who sets up his status indication as follows, using his messaging client UI:

     Contact Status Indication Default "I am busy"

Group: MyProjectTeam

"I am available"

User: Jim "I am reading your proposal"

User: Jeff "Ca...