Over the past year, I’ve been advancing the argument that knowledge isn’t power. Instead, integration is power. Microsoft understood this when they created the Office suite – users want ease of functionality across different tools. Facebook currently understands this better than any other tech company, as evidenced by their announcement today of Facebook Messages – basically, an integrated platform for email/IM/FB messages. Instead of having to contact a person via email, or IM, or Facebook, Messages emphasizes connecting directly to a person. It’s a simple, but important idea (here’s a great intro video). If it’s successful, it could dramatically reduce spam and make cross-platform communication much easier than it is today. And I don’t like it…well, I like the idea, I don’t like the company advancing it. I try to minimize my Facebook use, simply because I have zero confidence in their appreciation of my privacy concerns. If I start to flow all of my messages through Facebook, the company will continue to get a more complete understanding of who I am – my interests, my hobbies, and so on. They will have an integrated view of my conversations, my social network, my current concerns, etc. I do not want a company I don’t trust to know me this well.
Like money, privacy and data are transactional entities. While I have concerns about Google, they have made huge strides in making data open. As a result, I’m willing to exchange my data and web habits for great tools (gmail, search, groups). Until FB Messages, the individual person served the role of integrating messages by somewhat controlling the media (SMS/email/whatever). With Messages, FB serves the role of integrating media and message. Again, it’s a great idea. I just wish an organization that I trusted was advancing the product.