What's the deal with people using Facebook messaging in lieu of email these days? I don't understand this phenomenon, and I don't like it.
Just so everyone knows: I rarely use Facebook. My account there exists only because I needed one to do some development there for work. It might look
like I use Facebook, but that's only because I have my Twitter client set up to push messages to Facebook (in point of fact, I set this up when I configured the client and promptly forgot about it, and was then surprised to get a mess of Facebook status replies). If you send me a message via Facebook, whether by scribbling on my Wall or sending a private message, assume that I either won't see it at all, or won't see it for a week or more.
I have three email addresses. One is my personal email, one is my work email, one is a dumping-ground account that gets a whole lot of mailing list traffic that I really don't have time to read. Where do you think Facebook notifications go? If you guessed the third one, hurray, you win a No-Prize. Those itty-bitty status notifications get drowned in a sea of bug reports and developer chatter, maybe three to five percent of which I actually read. Stuff gets batch-deleted every week or so, and it's easy for the only indication that a Facebook message has arrived to get lost in the noise.
"But, Meredith," I hear you say, "why not just point notifications at an address you actually check?" Simple enough: like Bartleby the Scrivener, I would prefer not to. I don't like the interface, application-layer protocols riding over other application-layer protocols is a stupid implementation choice, and if you think I trust Facebook with my private data, I've got some beautiful oceanfront property in Luxembourg I'd love to sell you. I'm twitchy enough about gmail. I expect to have control over my email, and anything I expect to have control over lives in a place where I can shred(1)
it if the need arises. Data on Facebook is not data I own, plain and simple. (Neither is data on gmail, for that matter. Or LiveJournal, but I've got enough time invested in this blog and the community it's part of that leaving would be a hassle, so I censor myself, and hate myself for doing it.)
If Facebook someday decides to set up an SMTP gateway, so that I can reply directly to email@example.com
, then perhaps I'll change my mind. I doubt that will ever happen, though; they're heavily invested in their walled garden and don't seem too inclined to change that. (Perhaps I could have done something about it if I'd taken that job there, but I'm pursuing academic goals instead, and that door is closed. If you're reading this, Larry, I genuinely am sorry; I think I would have enjoyed working with you, but I have to follow this dream.)
This is a facet of today's Internet that worries me. On the one hand we've got Web 2.0 sites like Twitter, Flickr and Amazon publishing data and providing services via openly documented formats that I can read, use, and mash up any way I like ... and on the other, we've got Facebook and MySpace building extremely large ghettos on top of privately documented protocols that lock users into set patterns of behaviour. I don't like this. It stifles my creativity and harshes my mellow. It might be a nice-looking ghetto ... but it's still a ghetto.
there, and if my steel sieve of a memory serves, SMTP can be modeled with either the same computational mechanism as IPv6 or a weaker one. I expect it's feasible, but I don't expect to like it. (Besides, it'd be a hell of a way to ship out lots and lots of spam. I'm sure Facebook would appreciate that.)
So, yeah. If you want to send me a private message and actually have me read it, suck it up and send me an email.