CowboyRobot writes "Queue has two related articles on Instant Messaging. The first, written by two Sun Labs researchers, looks at the lack of standards in IM protocols, as well as the preception that the distracting nature of IM precludes it from being a more useful communications medium. Their solutions involve new 'Awareness Services' and they summarize three research prototypes: 'Awarenex', 'Rhythm Awareness', and 'Lilsys'. The second includes the results of an AT&T Labs study of IM use. Among the findings, "Despite the perception that IM is commonly used for social purposes in the workplace, we found that was rarely the case. Only 13 percent of the conversations we monitored included any personal topics whatsoever, and only 6.4 percent were exclusively personal.""