I like Facebook, I really do. I keep Facebook open all day, am a proud early adopter with an edu account, loved the news feed amidst the initial criticism, and was excited to upgrade my messages to the new messages last week. I soo want Facebook’s new messages to be the next game changer which will eliminate my need for email, but I’m afraid to say that the new messages is Facebook’s Wave and leaving alot of people asking, “So whats different from the old Facebook messages?”
Essentially Facebook messages brings all your messaging together through text messages, emails, and Facebook chat conversations. The idea is that once you start a conversation you can use any means of communication to continue the conversation. Facebook even gives you a facebook.com email address.
Call me old school, but I believe different means of communication are used for different scenarios and serve different purposes. Email is typically reserved for more formal, thoughtful, lengthy exchanges. For example if I’m typing an email to my sister asking her how the kids are doing, I wouldn’t want or expect to get a 160 character response via text message or a short chat response. Conversely if I’m sending a text message or chat I’m expecting a short immediate answer to a pressing question that does not require the length or delay of email.
Sometimes I may have multiple conversations using different mediums with the same person. In this scenario Facebook messages would make things more complicated. For example if I’m sending out an email to a couple people through Facebook messages, while at the same time texting one of those friends asking where we are having lunch, but also engaging in an IM conversation with them throughout the day; Facebook would conveniently yet confusingly mash all these conversations together in one long, out of context thread.
Like Google Wave, Facebook is trying to fulfill a need that sounds better in theory than practice. Emailing, texting, and chatting work very well independently and help us keep things in order and within context. If anyone is going to revolutionize the way we communicate I believe Facebook stands the best chance, but the new Facebook messages unfortunately misses the mark.