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Once upon a Yahoo Messenger

You possibly would know what a Yahoo Messenger is if you patronised the Internet in the late 90s. It was a time when to be online meant you went to check your mail and possibly went to also try chatting. It was the time when to surf the web meant you had to do same in a cyber cafe.

It was morning yet on our Internet usage in Nigeria and few knew of the amazing stretch of network that the Internet is. On a particular instance, a lady went into a huge rage of fury with the cafe attendant because her Yahoo messenger chat was failing.

Yahoo Messenger then was a product of genius from the duo of who founded Yahoo. This is not a post-mortem of an already extinct platform. No, it is one of a platform that has since been forced to the back bench by the quick and competitive evolution in the social media ecosystem.

Yahoo Messenger was that number one instant means of communicating with another person or groups of person anywhere in the world as long as they were also connected to the same platform. Yahoo Messenger was possibly Africa’s first definition of social media. That was when overnight browsing was in vogue and to cut cost, there were armies of young people who engaged in same. Yours sincerely was perhaps a General in that army!

Yahoo Messenger was one of the first to make emoticons popular. It’s safe to assume that the histories of abbreviations in today’s social media space would not be complete without giving Yahoo Messenger a byline. The first instance of what is today’s pinging is probably an offshoot of Yahoo messenger buzz back then, which was activated then with a Control Key + G press on the keyboard.

Free to download, Yahoo Messenger is an advertisement revenue dependent platform like Facebook and Twitter. Like a thousand of others as well, my use of the webcam was also courtesy of Yahoo Messenger. The instant messaging environment which the messenger created was also part of its unique selling proposition allowing the background of chats environments to be altered and also leaving space for changing of fonts and colour of fonts. Of the lots that Yahoo Messenger had, the chat room was the killer!

Right in those rooms, conversations were possible with total strangers. It was the new form of pen pals, except that, this time they were computer pals. It was from the use of Yahoo Messengers that the lingo Yahoo Boys stuck! Regular visitors at cyber cafes then would remember that cybercafés were raided in search of Yahoo boys and cafes always had a disclaimer for sending of spam mails through such platforms.

The methods have since changed especially now that Yahoo Messengers public chat rooms are no more. It was rested on December 14th, 2012. Before then, chats rooms could also be created by individuals until 2005 when this was stopped.

With the various public chat rooms then, it was easy to enter into a room of choice and discuss any subject of choice or trending one. When an individual begins to give attention to you, you quietly move out of the room and continue a private chat with that person. It’s understandable that Yahoo Messenger did not enjoy huge patronage on mobile gadgets because by that time, tablets and phones were not available.

Launched in 1998, the messenger also had games on it. Chess was my favourite with the instant messaging messiah that Yahoo Messenger became. It was revolutionary in a sense. It was a case of making the complex simple. You type a message here in Nigeria and the recipient, in say Australia, sees the message seconds after and responds and the communication goes back and forth. It’s like the walkie-talkie in written forms except that here, both of you can type at the same time.

Currently on the 11.5 version, Yahoo Messenger continues to fight for its share of the market where instant messengers and other communication apps like Whatsapp, Google hangout, Viber, Skype, Nimbuzz, 2go and company now call the shot. It is now in competition with several other social networks of equal, less and greater strength.

Using Yahoo Messenger today would arguably leave one with an experience close to that of Will Smith in the 2007 American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film titled ‘I am a Legend.’ Yahoo messenger in essence is a ghost land today; it however still retains the title of the grand dad of all instant messaging apps.

It would be strange today if someone asks for my Yahoo Messenger ID. Anyone who possibly logs on and finds other friends who are users there would be lucky.

The purple spherical logo with the ‘Y’ and exclamation mark which brands Yahoo Messenger is gradually becoming extinct with its yellow and happy emoticon. It is popular opinion in social media circles that Yahoo did not ennovate early enough as the industry demanded especially in terms of compatibility with mobile applications. It stood and allowed the competition overtake it.

Yahoo, a brain child of David Filo and Jerry Yang, started while the pair was at Stanford University, trying to acquire degrees in Electrical Engineering. YAHOO is an abbreviation for ‘Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle’. The choice of the abbreviation was premised on the unsophisticated, human-like animal fictionalised by Jonathan Swift in his 1726 best seller, Gulliver’s Travels. If one is to go by Yahoo messenger’s Facebook fan, Indonesians and Philippines top its usage with 30.2 per cent of its 1,493,274 total fan base.

Yahoo Messenger, given its past, holds a promise of being able to give Google + et alia a run for their money. A difficult exploit though. Given the features of several other instant messaging apps today, there are evidences that some copying was done from Yahoo Messenger.

Multiple chats are possible on Yahoo Messenger and it supports the wish to go invisible in the chat room. These are features present in today’s social media representations. Yahoo’s recent acquisition of Tumblr may speak of its attempt of revamp in a number of departments.

Yahoo Messenger may not be as glamorous as it used to be but there are still long term users of the platform.

My memory of Yahoo Messenger lies in the effect created when trying to buzz a chat partner; that shaking of the IM environment. I loved it! Also resident in this memory is the several nights of overnight browsing spent chatting on Yahoo Messenger to only God knows who!

Source - Punch News

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