(reposted from 11/16/06)
Closed messaging, a.k.a., the faux email chains that occur wholly inside social networks like MySpace, Facebook, etc. drives me nuts.I understand why it’s valuable. It increases traffic exponentially. Arguably MySpace and Facebook aren’t social networks so much as email services. It’s like you’re checking your email 10+ times a day, only when you do it 10+ times on MySpace, its value goes up another million dollars.
But it’s a massive step-back from the “never delete anything ever” ethos espoused by gmail and all the newly humongous free email services. It’s also counter to the whole open-source movement, where everyone’s pushing for interoperability and open APIs.The problem as a user is a loss of control. Email services may not last forever. But I know I’m much more likely to use gmail in 5 years than Facebook. So when I eventually abandon my Facebook account, any messages I have within that account will be gone forever. While this may not seem like a big deal right now to most people, months, years down the line, when you’re trying to find some obscure, but highly important thought… it’s going to be a bummer, to be flippant. Furthermore, in the here and now, it splinters my communications. Did I mention that thing about that place in my email or my Facebook or my X social networking account?I’m also aware that closed messaging is sort of an offshoot of the PM feature that’s been available on message boards since forever… but I feel like the PM is an circumventive anachronism of an era of 2MB email accounts. And to be honest I’ve never liked the PM feature. It’s never going to go away since it’s a basic feature now, but it doesn’t serve any purpose. Don’t PM me, email me, I’ve got gigs to spare. And if you catch me while I’m on the site, that’s what live messaging is for (ironically, I’m willing to overlook the interoperability of IM and live messaging services, maybe because archival hasn’t been ingrained as a standard feature set).
If I was an email service, I’d probably try to get ingrained with a social network, and make the messaging automatically archived within my email account as well. Getting people to switch email accounts is extremely difficult, but this seems like a great foot in the door tactic.