Facebook just took the wraps off its new messaging system.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg says “it’s not email,” but it is email. It’s just a slightly different version of email.
Even Facebook’s director of engineering, Andrew Bosworth said it’s IM with email layered in.
The three big bullets from Facebook on how its new system works:
1. Seamless messaging: You can be reached easily anywhere anytime, be it email, SMS, or IM.
2. Conversation history: All those conversations are in one long stream that looks like SMS or IM histories. So you can hold on to you all your messages for eternity.
3. Social inbox: Facebook can give you good filtering based on your friends. You will get three options — messages, other, and spam. Messages will come from people that you’re friends with on Facebook. Other will be everything else. And spam is spam.
Facebook is starting to roll this out today. It will start as invite only and over months open to everyone. People will get @facebook.com email addresses to use, if they like.
Below is our live notes from Facebook’s event:
Hello! We’re live blogging Facebook’s big product announcement. It kicks off at 1 pm eastern.
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All time stamps below are eastern. Nothing is a direct quote unless there are quotation marks. Typos are likely, we apologise in advance.
12:44: Just waiting…
12:48: Gabe Rivera just tweeted, “I just arrived at the Facebook news event and…I see a gong!” (It wasn’t used apparently)
Facebook uses a Gong to introduce new products…
1:02: Still waiting…ah ha tech delays! It has started…
1:03: There is Zuckerberg: 350 million people using messages on Facebook. More than 4 billion messages sent daily.
1:04: Messaging is growing faster and faster, so we’re talking about what the next version of this is. Here’s the “problem space.” Modern messaging is not email — it will have seamless integration. It will be informal, rather than formal. Formal adds a cognitive load so people wont share as much. It should be immediate.
1:06: Needs to be a real time conversation. “It should be personal.” What people like about IM and SMS is that there is a high “signal to noise” ratio. With email too much stuff you don’t want. We think you should take features away from messaging. It should be minimal.
1:07: Here’s what we’re having: 1. Seamless messaging 2. Conversation history 3. Social inbox — “It’s not email.”
1:08: “This threading model is archaic.” In real life you have conversation. IM and SMS you have one thread, which makes it easy to communicate. You can have conversation history view in one view. All your IMs, SMS, emails, all of it goes into one place. Rich history of you and your friends.
1:10: The social inbox: We can do really good filtering for you. There’s a lot spam and junk in email. It’s tough for any email system to know who’s a person and who is junk. The best way to build white lists, but it hasn’t been practical. At Facebook you get lists automatically. You can get messages filter from friends of friends without having to do any work at all. The social inbox is all high signal. You get another box which has the other stuff.
1:12: This creates the modern messaging system.
1:12: Boz is walking through the product now. Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering at Facebook is speaking.
1:13: We should be more connected today than at any other point. I have to keep a “look up table” in my head about how to connect with people — my brother likes SMS, my grandma likes email. I shouldn’t need that table.
1:14: We’re giving people an @facebook.com address if they want that. But, the system is NOT email, we’ve actually modelled it after chat. He’s demoing the product. It looks like a hybrid of IM and email. (The product launches today.)
1:16: The idea is “people should share however they want to share.”
1:17: It will work with Jabber/XMP, IMAP is on the way, Facebook API.
1:17: Imagine having a conversation history of everything you’ve ever had with a girlfriend/boyfriend from hey do you want to see a movie to hey do you want to pick up the kids? Bos talks about how his grandma has letters in a box somewhere. He doesn’t really have that. This conversation history is supposed to be a modern version.
1:18: Facebook rebuilt its infrastructure to support this — an open source product called H base. Built an engineering team internally around it. Biggest engineering team Facebook ever built for a new product — 15 engineers. (Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?)
1:21: You have three boxes, messages, other, and junk. You can filter messages this way.
1:22: Other isn’t stuff you hate, it’s just stuff that’s not super important. Like bank bills.
1:23: We can change paradigm to genuine control over who can send you messages. We can bounce email from people that aren’t a friend of yours. We can use the social graph, which no one else could in the past.
1:24: Here’s Zuckerberg again. Working on this for over a year now. It’s a huge problem — scaling our messaging, and layering all these new systems like email. This is not an “email killer” it’s a messaging system that has email as a part of it.
1:25: We don’t think people will shut down Yahoo or Gmail tomorrow. Everyday if we do a good job, more people will IM, will message. Then maybe eventually people will say ‘hey this is the way the future should work…maybe email isn’t as important a part.’ Maybe we can push people towards seamless, immediate messaging. We will roll out over the next few months, it will be invite only at first.
1:27: Now it’s Q&A time with Zuckerberg and Bosworth:
1:28: What does this not do that we want it to do? Z: We want IMAP support. A part of the philosophy. Already speaks email protocol, but syncing with other email systems is on the roadmap. A lot will just be feedback from users. It doesn’t do a lot — like subject lines for various threads, we don’t think that’s where the world is going.
1:29: Zuck answering new question: If you have interacted with someone through email, it will go to email. On the interface you can control where it goes. To phone, inbox, or IM…The “policy engine” makes a decision about where to go with the messages.
1:31: Will there be VoIP or video? Maybe over time, we thought it would be easier to just do what we’re talking about today. We’ll have to think about, have to see how users use it. We want to take this step before moving forward.
1:32: Will there be advertising? Will you use content for targeting? How does this affect Google rivalry? Z: the advertising works same as it does in Facebook. Space on teh right. Nothing on the context. But in general, we base it on what you tell us on your Facebook page. You tell us you like Green Day, we let you know Green Day is touring. That’s difference between us and other systems. As for Google, “I think Gmail is a pretty good product.” The code name for this product is “Titan…” then he rambled about a new company called Gigabox, which he will kill. Google “has a great product,” we’re just trying something simple. If we build something great, then people will use it.
1:35: Bos: Users can delete any conversation they want. They have control.
1:36: Is this the biggest technical challenge for Facebook ever? Bos: I don’t want to start a nerd fight, but it was a big challenge. How will it change communication? We’ll be in continuous conversations instead of fragmented talk.
1:40: Zuck: If you’re not a part of the Facebook system, we don’t have you in the main folder immediately. But, that’s easy to solve. You just tell Facebook’s message system. Use your network to make your world better.
1:41: No way to filter dumb messages from people that are close to you, but there is just one conversation!
1:43: What am I emailing the press team at? The Farm Bureau has agreed to give us FB.com and we’ve decided not to sell farm subsidies. So Facebook will have fb.com internally. Seemed pretty reasonable.
1:45: One early objective with Facebook was to expand social network? This is putting people in the box? Bos: I dont think that was the objective of Facebook. It was to make it easier to talk with people. This does that.
1:48: How much storage space? Message forwarding? Bos: Yes! You select what part of the conversation to forward. You can add people to the thread, and people can leave the thread. Storage, no specific number. If you’re a good user you’ll have no cause for concern. if you are a bad user and your trying to find the limit then you’ll get stopped.
1:50: That’s a wrap!
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