The recent rise of Instant Messaging systems as a centerpiece of online communication has brought with it many questions about the role this new medium will play in the communicative sphere. As the medium has evolved, it has grown to subsume many traditional communication technologies, merging their individual capabilities. In this chapter, a cross-section of popular and established technologies is examined and a strata of affordances introduced, describing the media’s capacity for tasks enabled through their message transport. Through this framework the modern medium of Instant Messaging is compared against these other technologies in terms of the affordances offered by each and the argument presented that IM is evolving to subsume many of the traditional communicative mediums into a single communications hub, or hypermedium.
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