Instant Messaging

Writing about blogging with a pseudonym earlier this week got me thinking about the old instant messaging programs. The first instant messaging (IM) program (yeah, apps were programs back then) I used was ICQ (I-seek-you) back in the late 90s.

ICQ gave you a unique identifying number (UIN) upon registration. You could associate an email and other details and make available for searching. I don’t remember my UIN. I do remember it contained a 69 which I thought was pretty cool. You were able to search with a bunch of filters all the way down to country and city.

I managed to find someone at the other end of the country, similar ages but who had a friend who went to my school. We quickly became friends and still are 25 years later, our children play together now.

The last time I remember using ICQ would have been 1999. Chatted with class mates. Used it as a method to deliver Back Orifice to unsuspecting class mates, lol.

AIM wasn’t used down here. I used it briefly with buddies from IRC who worked on the website with me.

These IM programs appeal to me even now as they weren’t tied to my identity (FB Messenger), or my phone number (WhatsApp, Signal). It was easy to leave my handle published on my website available for surfers to reach out to me if needed.

Microsoft Messenger (MSN) must have taken over around then as everyone from school I chatted with on ICQ moved over and a whole bunch of others joined too. MSN lasted until 2014. I don’t remember when I stopped logging into MSN, it must have been around 2004-2005 once I got stuck into Gmail.

Then there was a brief stint on Hangouts and then mass migration to FB Messenger. Google buried Hangouts at some point and I stopped using Facebook in 2018.

I got onboard with WhatsApp when it cost $1 and quickly abandoned it and used Signal exclusively in its place once they added the Meta branding. I only used these to chat with family and close friends. Being tied to a phone number didn’t lend itself to wanting to make it a way to contact me online.

I’ve used Discord since 2015 when the entire Warcraft community seemed to migrate to the service overnight, abandoning services like Ventrillo, Mumble, and Team Speak. Sure I can IM friends and randoms there but is the distraction of all the servers I’ve joined over the years where I’m only active in one or two.

Our new Discourse forum has DM capabilities where I’m chatting with a couple members but this isn’t ideal.

I’ve got private mentions going back and forth with friends on Mastodon but I find them clunky (I don’t use a Mastodon App) and don’t like how they’re intertwined with the main feed. I still love Mastodon for the conversation that can occur around sharing a simple blog post.

I ran into a conundrum the other week while messaging Robb with some EchoFeed feedback that got out of hand over Mastodon private mentions and moved over to Discord to wrap it up.

What I really want is a modern instant messaging app that I can have across Linux, MacOS, and iOS to chat with the awesome people in my online communities. An app that just sits there in the dock, or task bar that notifies me when I’ve got a message and I can open that up in a window and chat away. An app that allows me to publish my handle, fLaMEd, on my website to allow surfers visiting my website to reach out and leave a message rather than an email.

XMPP and one (or two) of the XMPP clients looks like it could provide this? I don’t know right now, I’ll have to read up on it further…

(Yes I know ICQ is still alive and kicking. I’m not sure that it’s something I’d want to use today)


Reply by email or XMPP.