25.7.06

The mess of Instant Messaging

Really, I can't understand the mindset of these millions of users that use those several applcations and ways of using internet to engage in a conversation.

Take a look at this graph:
table describing IM networks usage


People get excited to get video on skype. Yet, their sollution doesn't work in every setup: from their site, they say:

Very restrictive corporate firewalls: Skype currently works with most standard firewalls and gateway configurations. However, some very strict corporate firewalls which only allow TCP connections on a restricted number of ports may not allow Skype to connect at the moment. We are working on resolving this issue and hope that Skype will be able to function on the majority of firewalls with no configuration required. If your firewall does not allow you to use Skype, please inform your system administrator so that they can allow the appropriate access necessary for Skype to run.

Yes, in those nazi ambients you're surelly fond of Skype isn't a sollution, and it's a mess having to comminicate with some people with some software, and to other people with other software, right? Right, but then there are other problems, like despite software like gaim supporting lot's of protocols, it can't support Skype, since it's protocol is closed (which sucks). Of course that you can just wait for Jingle, video support for XMPP, so you can use Jabber to do that stuff you wanted on Skype.

One problem with Jabber is that you don't have message encryption support nor file encryption support. For message encryption you can use Off The Record, but still, you have no File Encryption. From the four most used IM techonologies, AIM, Yahoo!, MSN and Jabber, only MSN supports file encryption support, but then, all the messagens aren't real p2p: they pass through Microsoft servers, and I guess you don't want to rely on Microsoft, do you?

Simp Lite (free) and ScatterChat (free and open source) gives you MSN and Yahoo! file encryption, and Simp Lite also provides it to AIM. Simp Lite is only for Windows users, so it isn't that great of a sollution, is it? Besides, ScatterChat also provides anonimity, since it ru
ns it top of Tor.

OK, now, why am I talking about this thingie "ScatterChat" that nobody knows about after showing that table up there with the most used networks? Well, as I was trying to say, I can't understand
IM users. I don't really like the concept of IM'ing per se, but doing it using such weird closed dubious protocols scares me. So, should people start using ScatterChat? Not really - at lea
st I won't, or at least for now. The concept behind it is really good:
ScatterChat is a HACKTIVIST WEAPON designed to allow non-technical human rights activists and political dissidents to communicate securely and anonymously while operating in hostile territory. It is also useful in corporate settings, or in other situations where privacy is desired.

But then they fail in the implementation: for instance in the anonimity part. I would love to see a real implementation of gnunet-chat (and I'll believe that in time we'll get it), but for now you have other networks to provide anonymous chat: from those the relevant is IIP. The big problem here is that IIP isn't an IM network, but an IRC-like one. It shouldn't be hard to implement support to IIP in some client like ScatterChat: after all it already supports IRC, so the presentation layer should be no problem...

Anyway, we have all the means we want to create the chat/conversation/video killer-application for years now, and we still don't have it. Why? Because we just simple rely on those big companies into improoving their products. Get a grip: Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo and Google are too busy fighting with themselves over a market to care about technology.

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