Much - and I'm too lazy to track down the posts and create links - has been made of how ISC chat has become a substitute for in-world meetings where individuals and groups could chat in person, as it were. Fair enough, I suppose, although it's far from clear to me why the discussion is enhanced if I am sitting in a pub with you versus sending messages over a screen scrolling with text. It's not as though we're particularly good at facial expressions or other body language that enhance in-person conversations out in that other (some may say Real) world. Meeting in person can convey information about another through his or her attire, and can allow a more accurate guess - but still a guess - about someone's gender; still and all, I'm not completely sold on the concept, except as an extension of the paradigm of the character-in-world.
Let me suggest two reasons why I think ISC chat is a great idea for someone like me. (Your mileage may vary.) First, I have limited time in-world, especially during the week. Generally an hour in the evening, maybe an hour and a half. And I require some of that time for all the other computer-related housekeeping tasks that need to be done during the week. Consequently, I try to multitask: visit a new sim to take some pictures, pay the Guv his rent, check e-mail, get caught up on various Journals, perhaps post something to this Journal, perform various tasks in Quicken...it's a great time saver to participate in or just listen to the conversation in chat without being there. Yes, it has its own problems, and it's always interesting to meet someone for the first time to find that he or she looks nothing like one imaged from the conversation. (You try squinting at slow-to-load Profile pictures and tell me what a person looks like, smart aleck.) But it's certainly a Godsend to the casual SL-er.
Second, given the schedule I outlined above, and somewhat more extended in-world time on the weekend, it's difficult for me to get to scheduled events. During the week, most events start at 5 p.m. SLT or around 8 p.m. SLT, with the occasional Brit-centric event occuring while I am still toiling away to earn a shilling or two. Even on the weekend, the timing of events often makes it difficult for me to attend. I'm not complaining; the timing is what it is because it's convenient for a large number of people. Participating in ISC chat allows me to be part of the community, even if it is a small part, despite my schedule.
One final point, which may be related to the growth in the size of Caledon and the number of her citizens: like others, I often wander through Caledon, and occasionally come across individuals or small groups. Generally, I'll say hello, good morning, good evening, how're'ya doin', or some such, particularly if the person does not appear to be engaged in heavily cerebral activity, but I hesitate to start up a conversation both because I am quite shy and because I dislike interrupting people who are going about their business. Even someone who appears idle can be busily scripting, thinking, preparing taxes, et cetera. Perhaps things were different when Caledon was smaller and more people knew one another. Perhaps some wonder why that Jameson woman is so stand-offish. But in ISC chat, everyone who participates does so voluntarily. The danger, of course, that everyone has to listen involuntarily (short of turning off chat entirely), but it strikes me that the advantages are many and disadvantages relatively few.