The Death of Chat

This eulogy for MSN Messenger sounds a lot like how I would use AIM and ICQ back in the day. I never signed up for MSN Messenger.

When I was in high school and college, we didn’t have Myspace and Facebook. If you wanted to know what was up with someone you chatted with them on AIM and, before that, ICQ. I would spend a lot of time at night having one-on-one conversations with friends.1

It’s really a sign of how much progress has been made here. In the 90’s there were land-lines. No iPod Touches. No Skype. But computers were new to many families. These weren’t laptops – they were ugly beige towers. Rather than deal with older sisters tying up family’s phone lines (not that I was good on the phone anyway) an underlying culture sprung up around the ICQ UH-OH!.

Today I have nieces and they’re using iMessage, or Skype, or Facebook Messages from their iPod Touches. They bounce around between services depending on where there friends are, I think. Sounds familiar?

You know, I don’t know what the kids these days do anymore. But I know they aren’t using AIM, Google Talk, or other “legacy chat services.”2

  1. I, and others, would also spend way too much time crafting clever away messages. Now there are no away messages. Now we have tweets and status updates. 

  2. This also demonstrates a subtle change between chat and messages. Chat implies “I’m here in this conversation with you, right now.” Messages implies “reply to this when you can – i don’t expect something immediately.” But if it is returned immediately, we can chat.