I'm sure that by now you've heard about Facebook's new messaging system (Facebook Messages) and according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg "this is not email." After having some time to chew on it, read posts and comments, do some research and really formulate an opinion, I have to declare that I loved the idea... when it was called Google Wave. Now, let me preface by saying that I do not currently have one of the new accounts to give an official review so this is clearly based upon my current understanding, the things I've read and the official Facebook promotional video.
Okay, so that's a little sarcastic, but in reality Facebook Messages is not to much different that what you could do with Google Wave; yes I realize that they are different, but all in all Google tried to sell something similar and it failed to catch on.
Wave worked pretty much the same way and it even had real time chat, (talk about saving time via Instant Message.) Obviously in the IM format there is no subject, the conversation goes back and forth then you're done. Facebook realized the lack of a subject in that form of communication and actually stated that most Facebook messages contain 3 subject options: no subject at all, Hi! and Yo! Those works, because within the confines of an internal Facebook message I don't really need a subject, but if I'm sending the message externally to someone's e-mail there does need to be a subject.
If you haven't done it yet, I encourage you to watch the video above. They use a great example of a shoebox full of old letters at the end and talk about how those letters are stored in email, text messages and where ever else you can think of. My question is - how hard is it to dig through that box to find the letter you're looking for?
Imagine getting ton's of messages that say John Doe - , Jame Smith - . I mean really, no subject just the person's name. So every text, email, chat, IM and whatever else they think of is now associated with one person in a chronological conversation format; that sounds awesome, right? The problem comes when I need to reference something in our conversation that is buried 1000 message bubbles down the page or worse they have the conversations paginated after say 50 posts; now you've got to hit page 1, page 2, page 3 and since there's no subject good luck finding what you need. Couple that with the fact that you have different conversations with the same person, try looking back at a string of text messages from a friend on your smart phone, the conversation will change. So, even with search, finding what I want buried in that endless chatter is going to be pretty tough; the only option then is to either delete messages or have to dig for hours to find that old message. Personally, it sounds like a big waste of my time.
In the end Zuckerberg was right, this is not email and it won't replace it; I agree, in fact, I seriously doubt this will be as well received as the team at Facebook thinks. I can see it having some small place for friends and family, but I can't seem to get over the image of an overflowing shoebox of letters. Just imagine if those were important business documents like a bill pay reminder... waste of my time!