Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the IM Category

Ryan Naraine at eWeek who has been covering the AOL Instant Messenger account suspension SNAFU just contacted me to ask if my account had been restored. Apparently he was talking to AOL and they had said that the accounts had been restored. I checked and I still got the "Your screen name has been suspended and cannot be used to log in" error. Ryan contacted AOL and they fixed my account somehow. AOL didn't explain exactly why I was suspended and how I was cleared, but it appears that for now my account is back. Thanks Ryan. Is anyone else still having trouble? I assume that since I had to have them fix me manually, that there are probably others who haven't been restored. Or maybe they thought I was under 13 or something.


AOL Fixes IM Glitch
By Ryan Naraine
December 13, 2004


On Monday morning, some affected users reported receiving the error messages about accounts being suspended, but these were described by AOL as minor kinks that were still being ironed out.

Following up an earlier post about how my AOL Instant Messenger account is hosed...

eWeek has another update. eWeek interviews David Ferris from a market-research company who says, "One of the things that ought to happen is that companies need to be prepared to pay for more reliable service, but they're generally not prepared to do so." Ooo. Scary. Actually, maybe that should read "companies need to prepare to run their own IM servers that use interoperable standards." I wonder if AOL is thinking of charging for IM. This reminds me of a comment by someone from AOL at a conference that I recently participated in. I was suggesting that "presence" should be free and interoperable and people should try to make money building applications on top of "presence". The person from AOL said, "users will pay if they have no choice." Instant Messenger is a very good example of bad technology from the bubble era when people like AOL had double digit market share of Internet users. Why can't AOL users message MSN users? Because they have tried to keep users in a walled garden. This is exactly why the total number of AOL users hasn't been growing and their market share is shriveling. The Internet is ABOUT choice and interoperability. This whole idea of making walled gardens and trying to charge them because "they don't have a choice" is so misguided that it actually doesn't make business sense. The main reasons I was using AIM was because of iChat. Does anyone know why Apple went with iChat instead of something open like Jabber? Maybe this glitch is a good thing. Maybe "all this grief for no revenue" will cause AOL to charge money for IM and drive their users away to Jabber. Quick, someone write a better Jabber client.