December 6th, 2007
So email is, you know, dead because everybody communicates through Facebook and other social networks. Rights. That must be why Facebook finally caved in to user pressure to stop the madness of sending Facebook site mail notification to users’ email — without actually sending the text of the site mail message!
In what seems typical of Facebook, they cared more about the page view generated by the user being forced to login to view the message than they did about the user’s terrible experience. But Facebook is doing a lot of caving on its policy of putting user needs second.
Facebook bashing aside (who can resist), what this move really demonstrates is that email is still very much alive, and will continue to be until there is UNIVERSAL INTEROPERABILITY between EVERY social network and web application.
Think about it — email is still the ONLY real universal communication standard on the web. There is only one way to be absolutely certain to reach someone online — email them. Maybe they don’t check email all day long, but it’s the one platform that everyone is guaranteed to be able to send to and receive from.
Walled-garden site mail, like on Facebook and Myspace, is only appealing because it’s DISCONNECTED from the rest of the web — a way to communicate with your inner circle. It’s an exclusive communication system that not everyone has access to.
Or at least that’s how it was on Facebook before they let the whole world it — which brought in the user base that lives in email, not Facebook.
At that point, the disconnect should have been opt-in, i.e. if users want to stay within a walled-garden communication system, that’s fine. But to force users to be unable to work through email, i.e. their principal communication system, is, well, very Facebook.
Of course, walled-garden communication systems aren’t really dead, so long as there is value in exclusive, defined communication channels, which will likely always be the case. But there will also always be value in a fully interoperable communication system.
So long live email. (Or at least until its replacement ACTUALLY comes along, rather than being hyped to have arrived.)