Then gradually individual teams picked up slack and within maybe 18 months, we went from 100% aim to a gigantic corporate slack team.
That was the end of AIM, I think. Aol and yahoo both use gmail internally so I suspect they’re going to shitcan their email services eventually, too.
I think it’s remarkable how badly aol fumbled the ball on AIM twice — first by not turning it into a social network, and second by not turning it into enterprise chat.
All it would have taken was some investment instead of continuously laying off everyone that worked on it.
Also, if you think they missed a chance on AIM, it is nothing compared to what they missed on email. They could easily have made aol mail free and still kept charging for the client. Ted Leonsis admitted at a meeting once that this was his largest regret.
Is there a an established term for this already? If not I'd like to call it stock market disease due to the usual reason for it.
Norway's sovereign wealth fund Norges is starting to encourage companies to adopt very long term time horizons for equity awards and to move away from the specific, complex performance-vesting plans most US companies rely on today, though most institutional investors and companies are skeptical of that approach.
That is logical; however afaik there is almost no data to indicate magnitude of CEO pay is an indicator of company performance. I would bet you that long-horizon-tied CEO compensation would be correlated, though.
they literally killed their own golden goose with stupidity. why shouldn't others disrupt corrupt crap business?
I think this statement misleads readers.
Was there organizational stupidity? Always, in every organization. What kept AOL from capitalizing on messaging and social media was lock-in to the subscriber business model, which when combined with market defined quarter-to-quarter EBIDTA driven board goals did not permit leaping at what the people at the core of the (AIM) business knew were the possibilities.
About the only thing they could have reasonably got away with would have been some kind of spin-out, which was always opposed by the subscriber revenue side's logic. Guess what: the folks with the multi-billion $ revenue stream win those arguments.
So, not stupid. Bound by the market and biz model, and not managed by suicidal execs. So in the long run it took folks with tens of billions of dollars of private risk money to take that leap.
I get that the people with power may have maximized their personal short-term financial outcomes. Which is certainly one way to define smart. But it strikes me as a very narrow one.
Look at Bezos, for example. He's spent the last couple of decades mostly ignoring what investors wants on a quarterly basis. And Amazon's gone from strength to strength because of it. If AOL's execs were smart, then that makes Bezos stupid. If that's the case, I guess I'd rather be dumb.
The execs are probably not as happy as the investors, but they are still somewhat isolated from the fate of each individual company via their golden parachutes, and they can find jobs as experienced execs in some other company.
I think their unique culture has declined over time, but it was still powerful enough to give us the Prius. Now ubiquitous, at the time, it was revolutionary.
Also, I'm not sure that Wall Street had much influence on Toyota. I can't easily tell when they first listed on US markets, but it was long after their company culture was set.
What is more surprising is that our attachment to institutions includes for-profit businesses. Really, we should, as customers/consumers, just go with the best service, but culturally we can't help but think that something is lost when an old, useless company goes away.
Ultimately, in the context ans scope they are made, they are probably great decisions. However, reality is more far reaching.
Tangentially, publicly-traded companies are strongly incentivized to keep growing at all costs until they collapse under their own weight, rather than just finding a market and serving it well year after year. I dunno if capitalism is to blame specifically, but it certainly seems perverse.
Contrast this with communism, be where we'd all just be forced by law to use whatever AOL gave us, forever.
But it is still sad to see something that was such an important part of internet culture and history die like this.
But perhaps that is just the nostalgia speaking.
I’m surprised because it seems like with the infrastructure already setup, AOL could’ve built an internal enterprise MVP and got a real leg-up on the rest of the competition. Missed opportunity for sure.
(Although AIM itself started as kind of a unwanted skunkworks project, when there was an off the shelf solution available, people weren't that driven to build their own)
Mattermost today is extremely competitive with Slack.
Mattermost's clients are awful. Just awful. The phone apps are effectively unusable (incredibly buggy and suck down battery like no tomorrow), and the desktop electron app is a complete hog. It doesn't even handle its faux tabs properly (takes half a second to switch, and it resets the position to the end every time you change a tab, which is... dumb), and the scrollback handles high-volume channels very poorly (I have to click "Load more messages" at least 20x times every time I want to scroll back to the beginning of the day). Now imagine every time you switch tabs you have to click "Load more messages" a bunch of times to see earlier messages because it resets when you switched tabs.
If this is the future of messaging, then holy shit. It's almost a parody.
I'd like Mattermost to succeed. But it needs to do a lot of catching up still.
I feel like it's related to the age of leadership and trends in the current cult of personality du jour, and its interaction with promotion, branding and marketing. Shit happens, and the inertia of social groups is tough to steer over time, as sensibilities and fashions change, people get old, and graduating classes of the current generation ascend to power.
When the CEO controls a lot of the stock, they seem to care a lot less about quarterly results, whereas when the CEO gets most of their money from bonuses tied to stock growth, that is when you see most of these games.
If that's true, it seems the lesson here is to give your CEO a bunch of stock instead of a bonus based on stock performance?
Agreed, once the original vision is gone something else takes its place and it is just a ghost of what it was.
This goes hand in hand with the owners/founders being more focused on product development, engineering and innovation. Engineering and innovation are costly when marketing or bizdev/accounting/metrics runs your company which typically happens when the founder leaves. Engineering takes a back seat to decision making, marketing tries to pump revenue out of a product that may be successful not but is not being iterated or innovated on, or the next big thing is not worked on because the company is fat and happy until the grace from that innovation runs out. People join during times of success to latch on and cash out, when the hard work of innovating comes along, those people are gone.
Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google win because they are willing to take innovative risks, engineering is not in the back seat but a driving force and they invest most of their profits back into more innovation, Amazon is probably the best out there at this. Microsoft used to be as well and is coming back a bit but they fell into the trap above when Ballmer took over for a while, more focused on revenues and metrics than the next big step which will always put the current players out of business, or missing a step, if they don't adapt.
What's your threat model?
What is your basis for suggesting anything less than those guidelines is sufficient?
We should be encouraging people to select passwords that they can't rememeber so that they are then encouraged to generate them with a tool (my favorite being KeePass).
Longer passwords let you optimize passwords for ease of recall and security, rather than fitting in arbitrary requirements.
There were no duplicates in any of the 50 sets. (About a week's runtime on a fairly modest Intel processor.)
Given that 100m accounts is a fair fraction of the world's active computer users, that's a pretty good start.
(There are further reasons for finding passwords alone insufficient for security, but at least these are strong, and yet potentially memorable, passwords.)
EDIT: Well, with the exception of your password manager one, if not using biometrics.
You couldn't be more wrong about Yahoo, unless something changed in the last six months.
I left in 2016 and in practice we just didn't use email at all because it was so painful to use.
a) Employees of yahoo using gmail for personal purposes?
b) Yahoo, the company, uses gmail
c) @yahoo.com will be powered by gmail in the future as a white labeled product?
(Each of the above is alarming in it's own way)
I think a vast majority of companies would fire (at least, call it out as against policy) if you just went ahead and used gmail for work emails because the official one is crappy.
Man, that would be an absolute disaster. I have so many contacts who I can only through Yahoo and AOL email addresses. I guess I should reach out to all of them before they are disappeared. ;- )
Goes to show that big corps often have no clue how to deal with their offerings.
Source: I worked on AIM for iPhone.
IMO AIM struggled because:
- it was a highly tuned, specialized C backend, and it never migrated to something that could be improved easily.
- backend technical challenges (as well as legal issues) made storing chat history very difficult
- Hardly any info was collected about AIM screennames, so it was hard to build a social graph from it
- AIM registration was the same as AOL signup, and that registration process was very cumbersome, imo.
- Most AIM accounts had no email address associated with them, so it was impossible to do password resets, for all the locked up AIM screennames.
As a client developer on AIM, it was hard to make a material improvement to AIM, though we certainly did try
In fact many people think google's failure with gchat was trying to force people to use things they didn't want when all they really wanted was simple chat.
Wait ... what? Who came up with the idea of hosting your email with your competitor?
If I remember correctly, Yahoo used to have an email service.
What happened to eating your own dogfood?
I suppose it has been made obsolete now by Facebook and other social media apps, but those were never truly replacements for AIM in my mind, as most of them have eschewed the venerable screen name in favor of your real name or e-mail address. And for the vast majority of people I talk to online, I don't want them to know my real name. I suppose I am simply a relic from another era.
At least IRC lives on.
The pseudonymous UIDs, AOL's chat rooms, contact management, image sharing, private messaging—this list of innovations introduced to mainstream users made AIM a giant success.
Alas, AOL Instant Messenger cannot compete in the age of smartphones.
One of my friends with whom I stayed touch first through AIM said
> Somehow I really thought there would be an AIM
> emoji <emoji of man running: UTF-8 \xf0\x9f\x8f\x83\xf0\x9f\x8f\xbb>
> If any service should have an emoji standard, it’s AIM.
> *A sentence or paragraph without line breaks.*
> *Another paragraph of the quote*.
Since it's too late for you to edit, here's a mobile-friendly version of what your friend said:
> Somehow I really thought there would be an AIM emoji <emoji of man running: UTF-8 \xf0\x9f\x8f\x83\xf0\x9f\x8f\xbb>
and your reply:
> If any service should have an emoji standard, it’s AIM.
For something more in the vein of AIM, pretty sure Skype lets you send files too.
Edit: oops, I didn't know that Skype got rid of P2P, now files are uploaded to their servers
I can't say that I've used it, however.
Kik, notably, still has a fairly laissez-faire culture and a userbase that skews young, which makes it the most comparable modern network to the feel of something like AIM in its heyday; with the difference that so many people having overlapping identities, discourse is now fragmented between various platforms for reasons more than just network effects.
Kik (and Snapchat, if I recall) are two of an increasingly thinning number of networks which operate on usernames only, and you can use without giving the provider (or anyone you're trying to chat with) your phone number.
The real important question is how many digits.
On AIM, logging in was an active choice and it signaled that you were up for a conversation. With Facebook Messenger, everyone who has the app is always "online." This means that:
a) I get messages from people I don't want to have a conversation with at the moment and it seems rude if I ignore them, because there are read receipts.
b) If I send a message, I don't know if they're going to engage in a real-time conversation or if we're going to play phone tag. There's no way of signaling which I'm looking for.
Of the older IM clients; Lync had it, so did Lotus Sametime, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, and of course AIM.
Somewhere along the line the presence feature got dropped, and now we're always 'Available' even when we're not.
Away/busy messages and invisibility are comforts for users. They go away when execs see that doing so bumps some (probably bullshit anyway) "engagement" metric by 5%.
Before you were only available when you had your PC on, you were connected to the Internet, and your IM program was open. Now you carry your perpetually running IM program in your perpetually on and perpetually connected mobile in your pocket.
Not exactly, FBM lets you differentiate between people who are "active", as in they are currently using FBM, vs. "last seen x hours ago." The difference from AIM is that being active vs. inactive does not necessarily correspond to whether or not you are up for an engaged conversation, and also that you don't directly control your status since it's automatic. There is also a way to set yourself to appear offline, though it's kinda convoluted. I 100% agree though that finer controls over your status like back in the good old days of AIM would be really nice.
All these social networks are definitely trying to use symmetry to push for engagement, which is not always the goal from the user's perspective.
So much drama went down in those short little notes.
Honestly, I had no idea it was still operating.
So much time wasted right-clicking on a user name and going to "Show Info"...
Not sure that's true. I used AIM before I had a cell phone (and therefore SMS). While the technology for SMS has been around since the early 90's it really didn't get widespread adoption in the US until the early to mid 00's.
For some SMS may pre-date AIM, but I don't believe that is true for the majority.
The majority of the people didn't know what e-mail was, though they did have AOL.
Most knew about text messaging, but laughed at the idea of T9-ing a message to someone for 35¢, when you could just call them and talk to them for free.
I think that is the root of the US/EU divergence on text messaging. Because Europeans at the time had to pay for every call, inbound or outbound, text messaging was cheaper than talking. For Americans, it was the other way around. So each followed the path that was least expensive.
People knew what email was for several years before that.
Remember it took years for people to realize that there was more out there than just AOL.
Average, every-day retail workers mostly. In a mid-sized city.
I know the date is right because I only lived there one year.
When I moved back to the US in '01, SMS was free. If your phone and carrier supported it. If you sent an SMS to someone on a different carrier, in another country, or on a phone from last year, they probably wouldn't get it. When all these issues were solved and SMS usage started to explode, then the carriers decided to go for the money-grab... which was dumb and probably the direct impetus for iMessage.
Ironically, SMS probably replaced AIM for a lot of people as a lot of these limitations started to fall away.
I didn't have a text capable phone until after 2000.
Meanwhile, AIM well I carried the same ID since 1994 or so.
And then when mobile data became all the rage, everyone I know just installed ICQ on their phone because the data transfer for ICQ was less than the cost of an SMS.
I grew up in Europe and when I got to the US, I was surprised to see most of my classmates either without a phone or just getting one. I got my first cell phone when I was nine? Maybe eight? Most of my classmates got their by the age of twelve. In the US, my classmates got their phones when they were 14 or 16 or even older; however, they had ready access to a computer at all times, I didn't have that back in Europe.
When I was in sixth and seventh grade most of the communications with my classmates were through AIM. Then it was MSN, then facebook...
SMS may have existed before ICQ/AIM/etc, but it didn't get used frequently until the mid 00's.
In my days, we had to "finger" people their .project/.plan files in VAX/VMS & Unix systems.
Once upon a time when the net was still new, a friend of mine (then a Unix newbie) was trying to catch up with another friends' current status. Unfortunately this other colleague had quite a lot of info in their .plan, and so many lines and lines of text scrolled by too fast for my friend to read.
Needing a reminder about the syntax of Unix pipes and the "less" command, she turns to the person next to her in the computer lab and asks, "When you're fingering someone, how do you make it go slow?"
This poor hapless bystander gives her an absolutely horrified look, backs away slowly, and makes some excuse for a hasty exit.
It was only sometime later that my friend realized what she'd asked... :)
And, are you sure that facebook doesn't consume even more power with whole data centers fir storage, analysis and serving of mountains of trivial data, all to sell more ads?
Of course we're also connected to each other on more 'modern' social networks, but there's a certain - undeniably nostalgic - appeal to the AIM chat, continued unabated over the same protocol with the same handles for 15+ years.
Funnily enough, just a couple of nights ago someone I hadn't spoken to in at least _10 years_ signed on and messaged me out of the blue. We reminisced on our friendship on a now-forgotten AOL message board back in 2001, and discussed the myriad ways our lives had since changed since then. A surreal and touching exchange that's been running through my head since.
If you once had an AIM account and haven't signed on in a while - which, gauging by the reactions to this thread, seems to describe most of us - log on and see if anyone's still around. Your Buddy List hasn't gone anywhere.
I was headed to the main campus (Dulles) when the announcement was made. Internally, they dismissed the entire AIM product engineers and management, and simply retained operational people to keep the lights on.
Walking up to the floor where the AIM crew was working was creepy. Product plans on whiteboards and windows, with future dates written down everywhere. All the cubes on the floor were vacant, save for maybe a small few on the opposite side of the office (admin-type folks.) It was just straight-up silent, and incredibly deflating. That team always seemed to have a fairly good vibe, at least in observation.
I think they really missed an opportunity with AIM.
It's like how Flickr couldn't make a mobile app and Instagram happened, or how Digg fumbled so badly Reddit came out of nowhere.
First mover advantage is only important in the initial cycle. Once the market matures it's a huge liability.
In both cases the message I take is that a good team can’t make up for executives who don’t know what their business model is. Management by oh-shiny! and laying off people until a spreadsheet column is positive will trump lower level competence every time.
It amazes me how Facebook messenger became the dominant force with it's totally broken and garbage XMPP implementation (now gone), it's unreliable delivery and the fact that it was a total piece of garbage.
It's now finally up to the standard that AIM/Yahoo/MSN were, twenty years ago. For people who yell about it being proprietary, well so was AIM (Oscar)/Yahoo/MSN/etc. Today there are OSS devs doing the same thing they did back then with project like purple-hangouts and purple-facebook.
We have a lot of different chat services today, but we don't seem to see people developing things like Trillian/Audium/Pidgin the way those were developed back in the day. Today people are fine having multiple chat apps, all with their bloat and terribleness.
While it's tempting to accuse AIM, MSN, and Yahoo for being incompetent and not catching up to the "mobile era", they in fact did pursue this market as much as they were able. In truth, early iOS and Android were inferior platforms for a chat app. Push notifications were absent, data rates were expensive, and the average smartphone user at this time was not very likely to use those networks anyway.
Based on this info, I reason that it was truly Facebook that killed incumbent IM networks, at least in the US. Between the release of the iOS App Store and the introduction of push notifications for Android, Facebook grew by more than 300 million active users. This coincided with exodus of users from Myspace to Facebook; many of those users likely having used AIM, MSN, or Yahoo messenger in the past, now found themselves in a much larger network that also offered chat. Since Facebook largely subsumed everyone a person knew in real life, these users only had to go back to the old IM networks to chat with people they didn't know in real life, setting the stage for the weakening of connections and these networks' decline.
In my research, I've also prepared:
- A timeline of messaging networks 
- A timeline of Google's messaging rivalry with Facebook 
There's eul, a modern day Trillian:
It's a lightning fast native desktop app (~5 MB) for Skype, Slack, Facebook, Discord etc.
- The TOC protocol and the OSCAR protocol. Net::AIM and Net::OSCAR. Aryeh Goldsmith, you beautiful soul.
- The first $300 I ever made online was in ~2002, when I wrote a chatroom flirt bot for an adult content affiliate. I was 14 or 15 years old.
- The first project I built that ever got traction was a bot that enabled offline messaging. I didn't even write it, it was open source, but I branded it well and it got traction and spread virally across the USA.
- Being part of the AIM scene...exploiting warn functionality (with parallel attacks!), profile vulns, and 3char screen names being the most legit.
Was any of this predictable? Or could we just have easily ended up with everything fragmented, or everything a uniform standard, conditional on flipping a few minor historical events? The potential of very strong path dependence for the quality of equilibrium services is very disheartening.
Email's maturity by the time that businesses all came online pretty much guaranteed it as the standard for business communication, and personal use was just a small step from there.
Expecting 20s RTT for email is a modern phenomenon, when you could expect replies on the timescale of days before.
The closest attempt to a standard for IM is probably XMPP, which providers have pretty much all ignored in favour of lock-in to their respective platforms.
I think the whole point of having email is for communication where you'd expect responses on this timescale (for reasons outside of communication protocol used). Some questions just take time. The immediacy of instant messaging puts pressure to respond quickly.
Even for personal communication, if I want to write a longer letter, I don't get to do it every day.
On that note, none of the current IM clients are suitable for long messages. Even your comment is too long to be comfortably sent in an IM. There's a whole infrastructure around emails that make them suitable for long messages: drafts (so you can work on an email over the span of days), editing/formatting, and so on.
Then there's flexibility of the message being a unit of communication, rather than the chatroom. Your response can selectively quote parts of a message, being sent to a a part of the group, be forwarded. It's not easy to do with IM's.
But in the end, I do think that the non-instantaneous nature of email is the reason why people use it: IM's for short, fast responses, and emails for "...I'll answer it tomorrow".
And IM address is more or less private and restricted - you need to approve other party in order to send you messages.
And this, not the latency, makes the difference.
People are using Skype for example in "email mode": sending messages even when they know that contact is offline - it will be read later anyway.
Yet there are more differences:
1. Uniqueness of address. You may have tons of email addresses. But other party cannot be sure what you are reading any of those. While in IM you have one address in their particular namespace.
2. Consequence of #2: Most of IMs keep conversation as single tape - you know that if you or your correspondent did ever say something you will find it in that particular place - on that tape.
3. More or less guarantied delivery and corresponding UI feedback ("his/her LED is green!"). If you see "message delivered" then it in magnitude of times is more probable that your correspondent have or will read it. With emails it is more like a gamble. How many times we heard advices to check spam folder to find someone's message?
If desired, you could require approval from the recipient to reach this IM-level visibility if sent by a stranger, with unapproved messages appearing in the normal email box (sorta like FB does with non-friends). If someone is sending you too many, you can de-approve them, and you'll just respond slowly like email. The de-approved sender doesn't need to be told they have been de-approved, and the fact that we don't always reply instantly to IMs provides plausible deniability.
That's one of the points. I can publish my IM name but I will receive messages only from those recipients whom I will approve.
Publishing email address ... well that's the main reason why we cannot live without services like GMail - to filter out spam.
Email, for network connected machines with delivery direct into the recipients inbox (this is how SMTP works if both sides are network connected and online, and in fact was how SMTP was designed to work for connected systems) is also sub 1 sec delivery latency (at least for normal sized emails, 2G of attached photos will take a moment to ship over).
20 seconds for delivery of email (ignoring intermittently disconnected systems, which email still supports) is only because most email clients work in a polling pull mode from a central server, and the polling delay in the client is what adds the apparent latency. It is a result of how most clients are designed, not an inherent built in latency of the system.
It's funny how 15 years feels so ancient in internet time.
When I met my wife I asked her for her AIM screen name instead of her phone number. AIM was more common than cell phones (and didn't charge $0.20 per message like SMS).
At the same time, I am honestly surprised it was not sunset sooner. I wonder how many active users there actually were in the end.
There is a pretty large number of additional internet rando's from my youth whom I haven't spoken to in years where my only connection is their AIM screenname. I still use Adium connected to AIM just waiting for any of them to pop on.
For many of them, I never knew their real name, only their screen name. This will be a total loss of the possibility of reconnecting.
I am honestly mildly devastated.
It was a different world then, people were much more excited and willing to talk to weirdo's like me online.
But at the same time, that detachment was what made those interactions magical. I knew people by screen name, not real name. They weren't constrained by what their lives meant offline because all they were online was what they made that screenname out to be. Getting into the Internet i the late 90s / early 2000s was like another world because of how detached from boring reality it was.
That being said, the Internet has only really gotten better for weirdos. There is everything from decades old niche website forums to subreddits to new stuff like Matrix rooms for almost any subject.
Thank you AIM.
*edited for more details
One workaround would be to export all Contacts to VCF, then prune the list to only those for WhatsApp, run it, let it import, then deny permission and then merge all the exports back into Contacts. But then that's only a keypress away from an accidental full-slurp and you still can't add newer contacts manually.
At one point in time, All AOL, MSN and ICQ really did was try to prevent orders from working on their network. ( AIM / MSN )
And other point ICQ were trying to turn itself into Yahoo, an internet portal.
Google Chat? It couldn't even get the basic right.
MSN started to displace ICQ when it was faster, better and Icons pack ( before Emoji ). And ICQ somehow manage to react to this threat by keep boating itself.
At some point before 2007, MSN won. AIM were still being used in US but the trend was clear, people were slowing moving to MSN in US while the rest of the world has switched away from ICQ to MSN.
Being Microsoft who in my mind has never created any decent product, thought they won and decide not to do much about it. It was the era before iPhone. The era when everyone would question, what is going to bring down Microsoft?
Then came the iPhone that shocked the world. Well least in broad sense of it. The UI were revolutionary. But the tech or dreams wasn't. Pocket PC, Palm, all had similar idea before and HTC were ODM at the time. We had a lite, useless, slow Windows Mobile that couldn't do much at all.
Everyone thought, surely linking MSN Messenger between the Desktop and iPhone / Android would make perfect sense?
Not at Microsoft. And when they finally did? It was too late.
Whatsapp manage to became the dominant platform because it was good and simple. Somehow the tech industry took nearly two decade to figure out.
You have classic desktop clients for all operating systems (e.g. Gajim for Linux and Windows) and there are clients for android (conversations) and iOs (Chatsecure). Most of the clients (pc+mobile) are open source. What's more, you don't need to disclose your phone number and the privacy enabled by OMEMO is great without any usability nightmares.
On top of that, the network is highly decentralized. There are many providers for free and paid accounts and you could also host your own server.
My understanding is Whatsapp took off outside the US entirely because it seamlessly used SMS when data was unavailable and that was certainly a killer feature in many parts of the world.
At least in large sections of the world. Businesses have WhatsApp numbers. You see it on signs everywhere. I now find it a pain that people back home in the US don't use it. I use it daily. I literally just typed a message on there 10 seconds ago.
Now we have Discord/Slack/Whatsapp/A myriad of voice chat programs and I'm back where I started.
Edit: For those curious, AIM for Counter-Strike, ICQ for random internets, and MSN was pretty big here in Canada.
Interesting in hindsight then how some platforms adopted this one element, turned it into a log of away messages, dropped the messaging, and created "social media".