For the first time, I am seriously using IM. It all started when I installed the Google Talk client and messaged some of my family that I had sent Gmail invitations to. After reading about the client and network, I found that it uses the Jabber protocol for the IM portion. I had heard of Jabber before, but never got around to using it. My first thought was: Could I use this open-standards based messaging protocol for secure, encrypted communication with people in the office, say, during fundraiser time? Google led me to the GAIM project, an open source, free IM client for many platforms and services. This client also has two different plugins available for encrypting text communication between endpoints. It can work on Google Talk, AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and a slew of other services simultaneously. And since it works with the Jabber protocol, I can setup a Jabber server on Windows or Linux and do it all in house if I want. At the moment I am using GAIM to chat with developers at Prophet Systems while I beta test some new software and I can chat with everyone else at the station using their preferred service wherever they are. I also found software that will connect an automated program to a Jabber network (they call these bots) and use it to get information about various things. As more stations get "now playing" information from their systems, I can see that a listener could have your station as a buddy in his IM client and ask it questions about what is on, or it could send a message to people who want to know what's coming up. It will be much easier once this station data is all encapsulated in XML. For now though, my next project will be to set up a Jabber server for fundraiser. Who knows what will come after that?