Full Disclosure: this is an opinionated rant. Why do I have to go to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to send messages? Why do people insist on using these non-standard messaging systems? If people said, “Don’t call me on the telephone — I prefer the delephone,” you would think they were crazy. For a while, this was a minor inconvenience, but now it is starting to get out of control.

Do What You Gotta Do

Some people won’t respond to email (or take a while to respond) but reply immediately when you contact them with Twitter direct messages. Other people do the same in Facebook or FriendFeed. And yet other people send messages that pile up in your LinkedIn inbox.

Oh, and then I get the Skype pings.

And Gmail chat requests.

Oops, almost forgot FriendFeed.

This is getting out of hand. Do what you gotta do. If one of these is the only way to reach somebody I need to reach, then I’ll use it. But these are too many messaging systems, and they are becoming a productivity drain.

Open Standards Always Win

Lots of people say that email sucks, that it’s broken. This “e-fail” mantra is really about the inadequacy of email systems, something that many entrepreneurs recognize and are aiming to fix. The reason why email will always be with us is that it is an open standard, and this mantra is always worth repeating:

  • Open standards always win
  • Open standards always win
  • Open standards always win

Winners and Losers from a Standards Shakeout

Twitter has possibly gotten this right once again. Because it is open, anybody can build an interface for its direct messages.

LinkedIn totally fails on this count. LinkedIn is a great and very useful research tool. When I don’t know how to contact somebody, finding out which of my contacts knows them is invaluable. I use it frequently. But then, I want to be able to contact that person by email (or telephone, or Twitter if that is their preference). LinkedIn’s messaging system is simply an irrelevant chore.

Methinks Facebook messaging may go the same way. Not being a big Facebook user, I may miss the point. But I have noticed that the sort of person who in the past preferred to be contacted via Facebook now prefers communication via Twitter.

The Integration Opportunity

This pain point is, of course, an opportunity. This integration has been referred to in the past as “unified messaging,” but many of those solutions were too complex. You needed to buy into everything to use it at all.

Some great solutions are probably already out there. I am not talking about something like TweetDeck, which is perfect for somebody who lives in Twitter. Rather, the interesting thing is integrating Twitter direct messages into existing messaging and email systems.