Just sitting here thinking. That can be dangerous…

I’m not a big user of instant messaging, IM. I’ve had accounts on most of the IM networks, from ICQ years ago, to MySpace IM, a pointless exercise, and all those in between – AIM, Y! MSN etc.

I stopped installing all those – or any of those – networks clients when I found Trillian, a program that connects to all of them at once. It was kind of cool seeing all those little colored dots light up to tell you they were connected.

But for all that connectedness, I used it very little. Most of my real friends and family are on AIM, so I still can use that. But the other ones are long forgotten. I sort of wish I had my old ICQ account. Those were just numbers and mine would be pretty low nowdays.

I’ve heard of several other programs that, like Trillian, function on all the popular IM networks. I’m sure they all work swell and may even offer some bells and whistles that Trillian doesn’t. Lately, I’ve been using an open-source client called Pidgin. But I can’t help but think that this is the wrong approach.

Years ago, when telephones were new, you might have had a local telephone company. You could call anyone in the same company, but there was no connection to anywhere else. Of course, that all got fixed by technology and government regulation. It was good for the country to have a unified telephone system, even if it turned the phone companies into a big monopoly.

I think that’s where we stand with IM. It’s turned into a necessity for many young people and has transferred over into text messages on cell phones. Why should I have an account on four IM networks and a special client that joins all four? Why not ONE network and a simpler client? Does it matter if Yahoo or AOL or Google or whoever builds a client into their software, as long as it talks to your friend no matter what network he/she uses? I don’t think so and don’t care how someone gets into the network.

Why should AIM users only be able to talk to other AIM users? Why should I have to open another account and give out more personal information just to talk to someone who uses a different IM network? Not that there is any personal information that is sacred anymore, they probably already have it. It’s just the annoyance of another username, another password, another login screen to deal with. It’s so bad already that I use a password manager to keep them all straight for me. Someone could tie me up and torture me for my GMail password. I couldn’t tell them, I don’t know it myself, it’s in the password manager and the only password I need is the one for it.

It’s just all unecessarily complicated. It doesn’t have to be so.