Much of the discussion of work-related instant messaging focuses on the question of whether it's good or bad, makes people more productive or less. IM is usually described as a blessing and a curse or a mixed blessing. Count another one in the "blessing" column, although with a twist. It seems that lots of film contractors in Hollywood are using the away message in their IM clients to advertise their availability for work. Producers simply scan their buddy lists for those displaying "need work" or something similar, and hire someone quickly over IM. This will certainly be hailed as a triumph of technology, but it also underscores the importance of interpersonal relationships. The more contacts you have in your buddy list, the better chance you have to find employees or land employment, just like in the old days when producers had to call or email potential hires. IM simply speeds up the process of networking and hiring. Conversely, it punishes laggards who haven't caught on. So now it really pays to be in the know.
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