Our society has a serious problem. It must be resolved, otherwise our problems with communication will be much worse. And it's not going to be resolved.

We don't have a decent instant messaging solution.

Why do we love emails? They are reliable, common, easy to use and still they can be held in a variety of different programs, every flavour has its follower. And yet, after decades, there is nothing like this in the IM industry.

Reliable

I cannot fully trust the software I cannot obtain and browse code. Even the cleanest and most angelic foundation makes mistakes on how to handle our data. Without the community supervision there's no certainty.

Furthermore, without open source code there is no self hosting (ok, it is possible to make closed server software for the community, but it's not common). I host my email on private server to be sure that I'm in full control over my communication. I'd love to be able to do the same with my discussions over the IM.

Of course there are many options that allow me to do so. Unfortunately, there are shitty in other way - they are not as popular as the centralized instant messaging apps (and unfortunately the majority of new products in this category is centralized) or they lack in a technical division.

Common


You know, xkcd
FFS, why the most popular instant messaging app is Facebook fucking Messenger, the master of screwing you over. I need this little bastard to stay in touch with too many people, just because it's popular. As we utilize IMs for communication, they must be well-known in a group we want to talk with. I can't change my IMs only by myself, it has to be a collective decision. I love e.g. Delta Chat or Tox Chat but in the end it doesn't even matter. It was hard to encourage my most frequent discussants to switch to Telegram and this situation is still far from perfect.

But waaaaaaait, I can just use a universal client, something like Pidgin, right, right?

Unfortunately, no.

Variety of different programs

There used to be an acceptable number of IM clients capable of handling many different IM protocols. It's not the case today. I mean, these oldies still exist, but their ICQ and Yahoo! Messenger abilities are not very useful. Actually, only Pidgin stands a bit to the modern protocol requirements, but it has other problems.

Easy to use

Ok, so it turns out we need a compromise. Let's say, to be sure that I can conduct my discussions in a safe way and with everybody I can use these three protocols: FB Messenger, Telegram and IRC. But I don't want to run three different programs at the same time. As I said before, the market of the universal clients is clearly small, but that's ok, because Pidgin (and only Pidgin) handles these three protocols preeeeeetty well, so I will probably use it.

But no, I won't. Why? Because it's 2017.

Pidgin is not as convenient as modern IMs. Compare Telegram Desktop for Linux and Pidgin, the antarctic guy is much uglier, fails at logging, fails at searching capabilities…

Conclusion

Personally, if I had time to develop an IM app, I'd problably write something like Telegram, but with multiple servers (either a federation like XMPP or non-federated servers) + desktop and mobile clients would be compatible with at least IRC, maybe also Discord and FB Messenger. But it won't happen anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Background photo made by Maarten van den Heuvel and published on unsplash.com. Thanks!