This rather generic term has come to describe one of the more popular activities on the Internet. Using special software, Internet users can enter chat areas or “virtual spaces,” where they can communicate in real time.

While most chat software only lets users talk by typing, more advanced products assign avatars, 2D or 3D characters, to each participant. These avatars may even have expressions selected by the chatters. The most advanced products not only use avatars, but also let users with sound cards speak to each other.

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