From the bots list, some nice ideas for tech support IM bots making use of domain specific bot identities. But far cuter are stooge bots: one, two, three.

Sort-of-related is the story of the IM networks wanting to get paid. Maybe the problem is the relatively small number of networks -- there seems to be a level where competition doesn't effectively lower prices, and the competitors feel they're within reach of a monopoly so either make cartels or play hardball. Compare this to when there are hundreds of players in a market: the mobile phone situation in Finland is brilliant (just look at Nokia); the internet itself is treated as a shared common-land rather than large pipes joined only by tollbooths.