Social media is great, but it’s  not really for everyone. Yes, order there are those who prefer to not have their laundry hanging out in the yard for some morally questionable time-traveler to steal (because in the future they can figure out how to subvert the laws of time and space, hospital but can’t send anyone back in time with a jumpsuit), if by laundry we mean written words, and by time-traveler we mean anyone and everyone on the Internet. While some social media outlets allow you to keep your business private between participants, you’ll still be under the thumb of the operators who are parsing your every word for their own benefit.

Closed conversation systems have fallen by the wayside in the wake of the open-the-doors-to-everyone social media, so my friends and I have started trying Slack*. It’s being sold as a collaborative tool for companies and other project-minded folks, but we’re not that ambitious. We usually conduct our daily correspondence via carrier pigeon telegraph smoke signals EMAIL, dammit. which is OK because it’s really the lowest common denominator in online communication. But it’s got issues, like being the preferred mode of communication for your geriatric relatives who think writing in 36 point Comic Sans about the stupidity of the other political party is still “pretty amazing”. It’s also really easy to cross conversation by delay. And there’s no really good way to store info for later (organizing by folders and tags, sure, but if you’re OCD about keeping your email as clean as possible…)

Slack’s primary selling point is live chat. Yes, the same live chat we’ve had since the early 90’s (coincidentally, the last time email was actually “pretty amazing”). But it’s got modern perks like inline image and video embedding, public and private channels, and document sharing. So overall it’s not super cutting edge, except in that “everything old is new again” kind of way. We can also sub-divide our participation into channels. And all of this info persists between sessions so we have something to refer back to that might have been meant to be retained, or might have just been mentioned in passing.

*I’m not saying that Slack isn’t peep-holing your conversations. But their purpose of providing a place for business to gather would lead me to (hope) believe that they’ve got an eye on privacy.