This is mostly an opinion post. Instant messaging is very much a part for most of our internet lives. I think the primary use of IM is to let people what you are doing, or insert a song lyric through an away message. The main problem I have with IM these days is that, everyone is on a different network, contacts are hard to manage and keep updated, and the ads, annoying stupid useless bells and whistles. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have lots of features, as long as they are incredibly useful, and aren’t meaningless time wasters.
AIM, the king of instant messaging, apparently, has reigned for too long, and why? Because everyone who is anyone is on it. No other reason. Yahoo! has been innovating on it’s IM client for a while, but it still has too many annoying features like your personal Yahoo radio station, etc. I’m not saying that no one uses that feature, however, I’m saying for instant messaging, and communication, it doesn’t belong there. Sure, it’s convenient, but nothing more. I think IM should have a few simple qualifications:
- Easy to use regardless of age. Meaning, a young kid can sign on, or an older relative. Simplicity.
- It should be somehow integrated with your e-mail address. If someone has your e-mail address, they can have your IM contact. (I know some of you are thinking, I don’t want anyone to have my instant message name, well that leads me to my next feature…)
- Invitation contact list only. A person can only add you to their list upon approval from… you.
- Simple bells and whistles relevant to communication, (voice, video, archiving of messages, contact lists.)
Now I know my friends are going to think, “He’s going to say Google Talk”, and you are correct sort of. I would also say GAIM, however, GAIM doesn’t solve the problem, and Google Talk hasn’t yet, but they are on the right track. I think interoperability needs to be achieved. So that giving your IM contact would be the same as your e-mail or telephone number. People could contact regardless of what e-mail provider, phone provider, or instant messaging client they are using. As far as I’ve heard Google has been working to achieve this, and Microsoft and Yahoo! are linking their networks, so baby steps are being made.
That’s pretty much my thoughts on the subject. I know this maybe long and boring, but hey… think about it for just a second. Also, one closing thought. I know people like to express themselves, but using fonts, colors, and background colors isn’t helpful. I disable any fonts through my IM so I can read them, and the same goes for my e-mail. Clean text seem to me to be the best way of communicating. I’m willing to let you keep bold and italics. And you can change the font size once a month.