Types of Computer Communication

By Ben Lingenfelter

There are many methods of communication available to those on modern computers, given a connection to the Internet. Most common is email, short for "electronic mail," but there are also SMS chat, IRC chat, video chat, VoIP phones, social networks, discussion forums and newsgroups. All are ways people communicate with one another using a computer.


The most common method of communication via the computer is email. Email is simple; you write a letter in a text editor provided by the email service, type in the email address of the recipient and click "Send." The letter is delivered almost instantaneously to the digital mailbox of the recipient, and you have saved the postage you would have had to use to send it via "snail mail." The most popular email providers, according to compete.com, are Yahoo!, Hotmail and Gmail.

SMS, IRC and Video Chat

SMS (Short Messaging Service) chat is the kind of chat often sent from cellphones. It is also very commonly used in chat software like Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger or GoogleTalk. IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is quite different. You have to use an IRC "client" like mIRC, Chatzilla or XChat to access an IRC channel, and what you will find is an IRC channel is much like a chat room. Group chat is the default in IRC, whereas one-to-one conversations dominate SMS.Video chat is a mixture of SMS thinking and VoIP technology. Using software like Skype, Oovoo or GoogleTalk, you can actually see the person via webcam so you can actually talk face to face. With a good high-speed connection and a quality webcam, video chat brings an element of nearness to the traditional phone conversation.

VoIP Phones

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones are those that utilize the Internet to transmit phone calls. Instead of the traditional phone that plugs into the wall, a VoIP phone plugs into the computer and uses software to use the networks worldwide that we call the "Internet." Because of the cost savings, VoIP has become quite popular. Companies like Vonage, InTalk, MagicJack and NetTalk have all offered VoIP service to residential and business customers for a fraction of the traditional cost, as much as 50 percent lower in some cases, according to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are places where you can go to find answers. Usually, there are "moderators" for these forums, and you can find them for almost any topic, from troubleshooting car problems to seeking answers to common ailments. You register a new account at the forum, create a new "thread" or topic and wait for a response. If it is an active forum, you will sometimes receive a response (or responses) within minutes.


Newsgroups are a mixture of forum and chat room. People access newsgroups to post information, pictures, files and discussion topics. Others just skim to keep current, to search for information, such as job opportunities, and to connect with friends. You can use Outlook to access newsgroup servers, or you can use a newsgroup client. Newsgroups are not as popular as they once were, but they are still available.