Facebook Launches Google Wave!!!!

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No, wait … not exactly. Well, sort of.

We all thought Facebook would be announcing Facebook.com, the email server to end all googles. But instead it launched something else. It is called a “Modern Messaging System” and it combines email, instant messages, and SMS.

Hold on, I’ll be right back.


OK, I looked up SMS because I didn’t know what that was. It’s texting.

There are exactly two people with whom I regularly text, and by regularly I mean an average of something like one message per … week. But my phone system does not support more than a few free ones, so I think I like the idea of texting via facebook. But wait, that probably won’t work on my phone.

Instant messages and email combined would be a little like Google Wave, wouldn’t it? As in, you’re reading an email from someone and suddenly the contents of the email change and you realize you are being watched. Damn, I already feel like I’m being stalked all the time, I’m not sure I like that.

But wait, it turns out that as part of this “Modern Messaging System” you will also get the bladibla@facebook.com email address, thus allowing the divergent systems of communication that look like email to all be accessed with your alpine client.

Although people will now be able to have a facebook.com e-mail address, Andrew Bosworth, a software engineer at Facebook, noted that the new system will work with other e-mail systems, such as Gmail and Yahoo mail.

“People should share however they want to share,” said Bosworth. “If you want to send me an e-mail and I want to get it in a text message, that should work.

There are plans to add voice to this later.

Here’s the lowdown.

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9 thoughts on “Facebook Launches Google Wave!!!!

  1. “…suddenly the contents of the email change and you realize you are being watched. Damn, I already feel like I’m being stalked all the time, I’m not sure I like that.”

    I’m not as “connected” as many people I know – but my students can reach me by email whether I’m at a computer or only have my phone; my family can text me (and do), even when I’m at the Nature Center hiking and taking pictures. At times it is useful, but more often an annoyance. I really doubt I’ll use this new facebook feature: any idea who will?

  2. There are many young ‘uns of my acquaintence who have facebook as their home page and spend a lot of time on fb apps and games. These people will use it to reduce the time they spend away from fb in general.

    Very scary. I can see a large increase in the need for vitamin D in the near future for these cave dwellers.

  3. i have only sipped the social networking kool-aid.

    i sure ain’t gonna guzzle a 6 pack of the stuff.

    p.s. at least they aren’t all watching t.v.

  4. I’m with you on texting, but it’s all the rage with teh kids these days. What bugs me most (and you’ll have to excuse me while I get on my “get off my lawn” voice) is that it piggybacks onto otherwise unused voice data packets. That is, the traffic is already there. The cell phone companies are just cramming the text messages onto packets already in transmission. And to add insult, you have to pay (or have a plan that allows unlimited) for incoming spam texts. And they don’t let you whitelist.

    Supposedly I can do texting for free now that I have a google voice account. But I just email.

  5. Unified messaging is something that has been hacked at for decades. Good luck to Facebook, but the odds are they haven’t solved it either. I’m sure they’ll pick up 100m users just by default of their size however.

  6. It’s not truly interoperable so it won’t kill email, which continues to grow faster than Facebook. Ironically, if most Facebook users decide to turn on their Facebook email address, Facebook will never catch up to email.

  7. (Telephone switching systems eng. here, > 25 years in the industry.)

    FB’s messaging service comes with another “feature” you hinted at but didn’t name: ubiquitous surveillance. And you worry about the nudie-scanners at airports?

    As for voicemail-to-text, NSA has been working on continuous speech transcription at least since the late 1970s that I know of, is typically 10 years ahead of civilian tech at everything they touch, and even today still requires rooms full of humans to edit the output of the machine into recognizable words. Think of trying to design OCR for cursive handwriting and you’re kinda’ on the right track.

    But you can be sure that Google and now FB will optimize their speech recognition systems for the words for *things* you can *buy* from their *advertisers*, most of which have the result of increasing your *carbon footprint*. Progress?

    If someone doesn’t want to listen to the sound of human voices leaving them messages, and prefers to read everything as text, I have a very simple solution for them. Change your outgoing voicemail message to something like the following:

    “Hi this is Bob. I don’t listen to voice messages so don’t leave a message here. Please send me a text message of 200 characters or less including your email address and/or phone number. Thank you.”

    This is a really interesting case of social devolution at work.

    Audio quality on the telephone peaked in the mid 1990s. After that, with increasing penetration of cellphones, it went to hell in a handbasket. The technical name of that handbasket is G.729, which edits out most of the subtleties of tone, rhythm, and inflection that convey emotional data. (This is why cellphone driving is dangerous: your brain has to devote more CPU to deciphering G.729 into intelligible speech.)

    Now people don’t talk into ergonomically-designed handsets with high quality audio fidelity, they talk into devices roughly the shape of candy bars that do a little of everything poorly, and sound like crap. (That these devices sparkle and shine and make pretty pictures, appeals to the chimpanzee instinct to grasp at anything “shiny and new.”)

    So it’s no surprise that they would rather do text than voice: at least they don’t have to keep asking “what did you just say?” and “hello, are you there?” while reading their text messages.

    There’s a word for this too.

    It’s called the T-E-L-E-G-R-A-P-H.

    If we keep going at this rate, in about 90 years, human speech will be reduced to “eeep eeep!” and “ooop ooop!” and the like, but most of the time people will just poke at each other to get each others’ attention. And then they’ll make faces. In between the stream of ads.

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