Around the United States today, a few thousand lucky people are trying out Facebook’s newest step in its quest to be the site you never leave. It’s roll-out day for the company’s new @facebook.com all-inclusive messaging system. So what does Mark Zuckerberg have in store for us?
All Together Now
The main message from Zuckerberg and director of engineering Andrew Bosworth: Old-school email, with formalities like bcc’s and subject lines, is out. An informal mish-mash of communication is in.
Facebook’s messaging system is different than any other email service (namely, Gmail) in that it doesn’t just collect email. Texts and SMS, IMs and chat, emails and Facebook messages–”they don’t work that well together,” explained Bosworth. Now, they’ll all be assembled into one thread, blurring the lines of what an “inbox” is. So, rather than having your texts stored on your phone, and your IMs stored on iChat, and your emails stored on Yahoo, Facebook will compile your messages into one place. [Fast Company]
There Is No Escape
Buried in the deep recesses of your email account, you probably have messages dating back so far that reading them makes you wonder who you used to be. With Facebook’s integrated messaging system, your texts, emails, Facebook messages, and more would all be saved.
Like other e-mail systems, the Facebook messaging system will now save a conversation history, which executives said could maintain a sort of oral history. “Imagine you have the entire history of your conversation from ‘Hey, nice to meet you, want to get coffee?’ to ‘Hey, can you pick up the kids.’ Five years from now, a user can have this full rich history with your friends and the users around you,” Zuckerberg said. [PC Magazine]
Like many of Zuckerberg’s statements, this one can be read as either sentimental or terrifying depending on your comfort level with Facebook.
States enact laws against texting while driving, hoping to reduce accidents. In the time after those laws go into effect, the number of accidents in those states doesn’t decline. So are the laws a bad idea?
The question arises from a report out this week by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), a division of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The study looked at accident rates in Minnesota, California, Washington, and Louisiana before and after those states enacted their texting-while-driving bans. The authors found no reduction in the number of crashes, and actually saw increases in three states. (They also compared those states to others in their regions without bans to ensure that the numbers they’d found weren’t part of a larger trend.)
So what gives? For the IIHS, this is proof that texting laws aren’t doing any good, and might even be doing harm.