Is Facebook's new messaging system an e-mail replacement? As CEO Mark Zuckerberg so concisely put it at the platform's official announcement event yesterday, "No." What it is, however, is a system that's going to change communication as we know it, forever. Here's a look at why.
The Facebook Generation
"Talking to high schoolers makes me feel very old," said Zuckerg, 26.
As someone born in the same year, I understand where he's coming from. I mean, sure, we're in our mid-twenties during an era when 30-35 is supposedly the new "it" age and it isn't uncommon to see both men and women over 45 lazily considering a mid-life crisis, so it probably seems a tad premature. But when you're talking in Internet speak, consider how quickly things move in the social realm these days and you'll understand why 26 is no spring chicken.
I got to see Zuck speak at this year's advertising festival in Cannes, where he noted the significance of being the first generation to grow up with the Internet in the home. We used AOL and Netscape, we played Myst and that one old skiing game for PC (does anyone remember the title?), we built crude webpages using Angelfire, and we've grown into avid users of every major communication system to bait us: e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, social network messaging (in that order).
But show that list to today's youngster and you'd probably get scoffed at. Why use E-mail when you can text message? E-mail is slow and boring. Why use instant messaging when you can just hop on Facebook, a.k.a. the center of the Web?
The new Facebook Messages release considers all of these things and takes the whole shebang one step further.
If you missed out on yesterday's big news, here's the gist: Facebook Messages combines the most popular forms of communication (e-mail, text messaging, and Facebook's own private messaging and instant messaging) and jams them into one convenient feed.
For example, let's say my friend John sends me a Facebook message in the morning and I reply right away because, let's be real, I work on the Internet and always have Facebook open. Next, let's say John sends me a text message in the afternoon. Not only will my phone receive the message, but so will the thread John and I started earlier in the day. I can reply directly from the thread and John's phone will receive my reply. If I reply from my phone, both John's phone and our conversation thread within Facebook will receive the reply. This means we can continue to communicate the way we want to, from whichever platform we choose.