Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thing 10: Chat: Meebo, Pidgin, Skype

A colleague from CARL SEAL-South Andrew Klein (California State University, Northridge) is the incoming chair (2008) for SEAL-South. He has a webpage detailing how to setup Meebo on library subject guides at CSU-N (http://library.csun.edu/aklein/meebo.html ). Andrew will be presenting this topic in a poster presentation at the 12th Biennial CARL Conference, 2-5 April 2008, Hyatt Regency, Irvine CA.

What is Meebo?

Meebo is a web-based instant messaging (IM) aggregator. With a simple registration, you can easily log in to any of the major IM services (AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber) with one screen and one buddy list. Meebo is entirely web based, so there is no installation of software needed other than your web browser.

Sample of Meebo Me widgetMeebo offers a product called Meebo Me. Meebo Me is a Flash "widget" that can be embedded in any web page and act as an IM window for anyone visiting the web page (see screen captured example to the right). The widget acts as a relay between the web page it is embedded in and your Meebo buddy list. All the visitor needs to talk to you is a web browser that supports Flash.

The widget will tell the website visitor whether or not you're logged in, so they know whether to expect an immediate response or not. (The image to the right is how the widget will appear if you are logged in.) If you aren't logged in, Meebo will save and send you any IMs typed into the widget the next time you log in. It can also be personalized to almost any size and with a variety of color schemes.

Why should I use Meebo for IM reference?

Here's some reasons why you should:

  • It's ridiculously easy to get up and running and to use
  • You can put it on any web page to offer help exactly at the point of need
  • Simple, clean interface

Here's some reasons why you might not want to:

  • No frills like cobrowsing
  • Doesn't gather any information (visitor contact info, statistics)
  • Might be kind of creepy?
What is Pidgin?

Pidgin is a multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once.

Pidgin can work with:
  • AIM
  • Bonjour
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • Google Talk
  • Groupwise
  • ICQ
  • IRC
  • MSN
  • MySpaceIM
  • QQ
  • SILC
  • Sametime
  • XMPP
  • Yahoo!
  • Zephyr

Pidgin is free software.

Pidgin is free software. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. This means you are free to use it and to modify it, but if you distribute your modifications you must distribute the modified source code as well.


Make calls from your computer — free to other people on Skype and cheap to landlines and cell phones around the world.

Free calls within the US and Canada and great low rates on international calling. Plus other exclusive features and discounts.

So, what else can you do?

Skype is jam-packed with great features to help you stay in touch with friends, family and co-workers, share your thoughts and views and find the information you need. You can use it on your computer and on both WiFi and cordless phones.

Just for starters you can instant message with anyone on your contact list or even use group chat to chat with up to a hundred people. You could hold a conference call with up to nine other people to organise a get-together and then use SkypeFind™ to search for the perfect venue to hold it.

There are also really cool video features. All you need is a webcam to make free video calls or even take photos of yourself to personalise Skype.


Acronym legend: ACRL CARL SEAL-S (American Association of Research Libraries, California Association of Research Libraries, Science and Engineering Librarians)

Going Global: Academic Libraries in the Age of Globalization, 12th Biennial CARL Conference, 2-5 April 2008, Hyatt Regency, Irvine CA.

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