“Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice.” An ominous statement from the goog. Please don’t reader Voice.
— Mark Milian (@markmilian) July 9, 2013
On July 9, Bloomberg tech writer Mark Milian coined my favorite new tech verb: to reader – as in, to kill a product. Perhaps it’s time for Facebook to borrow a page from its Mountain View neighbors and reader a product of its own: Notes.
Facebook for many years restricted the length of status updates to a glib 420 characters, encouraging (or rather mandating) a short-but-not-quite-so-short-as-a-tweet conversational style amongst its userbase. To augment the publication of long-form content — including syndication from blogs — Facebook introduced the Notes app.
Notes lives on obscurely, lingering like a dusty record collection in the bottom-left graveyard of a user’s Timeline. And while these notes contain a rich trove of content, they’re largely redundant, and have been for almost two years.
On September 21, 2011, Facebook increased the maximum length of status updates to 5,000 characters, the equivalent of a seven-page essay. The change has made Facebook a far richer conversational platform than it was in the past, allowing users to expound (whether via comments or original posts) to their heart’s content.
What that means, in effect, is that Notes serves little if any purpose beyond what can be achieved by a standard status update. It could be argued that minor differences persist — they have titles along with bodies, they degrade less slowly than timeline posts, and such — but such distinctions are minor and, in my opinion, do not merit the persistence of an app for its own sake.