deconstructing social media: why does every company in the world keep trying to re-invent the inbox?
features that every service seems to have in common:
1. identity and authentication. This is given value either by being associated with another, higher-value identity (ie. your "real" identity), or by encouraging users to invest in the identity in other ways (networks of friends, investment of time and/or money, etc.) that make the identity valued and non-disposable.
2. an inbox/notifications list. This lets you know when you have something to read or respond to.
3. tiered-access messaging. the tiers seem to be: 1-on-1 communication ("email"), 1-to-few communication (mailing lists, bulletin boards, posts to circles), 1-to-many (posts to all registered users in a community), 1-to-all (blogging).
4. tiered-priority messaging. Phone calls are higher priority than SMS messages which are a higher priority than chat messages which are a higher priority than email messages which are higher priority than @-tagged tweets.
5. grouped messaging. In email, this is the grouping of related messages into a thread. On other services, this is the collection of posts into topical bulletin boards.
6. ephemerality. emails are produced once but can never be changed. facebook give us the ability to post-edit or cancel our communications. other services provide a limited window of time for a message to exist before it vanishes to silicon heaven.
Pretty much all of these features can be provided by a service that looks more or less like email. However, instead, everyone keeps trying to deprecate email, devalue email by spamming it with meaningless notifications, and replace it with their own more limited inbox.
I kinda wish we'd just fix email.