The Evolution of Texting

Think back to the time you received your first cell phone. Most everyone in this class will relate this period of time to when flip phones were still a thing or phones that were just being developed with “qwerty keyboards”. We were so… fascinated by this new form of communication. However, it is considered the most common form of communication in today’s society. There was a point in history where the act of texting didn’t even exist, so how did this nonexistent term come to be so popular?

How mobile phone technology has changed over the last 40 years | Netstar

There was a time when those taking part in texting back and forth could only send SMS messages; better known as the dreaded “green bubble”.  In 1984, two European men came up with the concept of SMS messaging. However, it wasn’t until 1992 that the first SMS text message was sent through a retro company known as Nokia.

The 1990s was the developmental aspect of texting. This is when companies were learning how to send text messages to other people and how to use this new type of medium to communicate. Texting became available around 1993 for person-to-person, and then eventually through various networks like businesses. The 90s were also the time when the T-9 keyboard was invented.

a cinderella story hilary duff gif | WiffleGif Services were starting to be made available on mobile devices in the early 2000s. The news was able to reached on mobile phones at the beginning of the new millennium. “Text to” became very popular during this decade as well: “text to vote” on the hit singing show, American Idol, “text to donate”, “text to receive updates” on the presidential campaign. this was a time period where texting started become known and was being used commonly in everyday life.

2010 was not only the time “texting” was added to the dictionary, it was also when Apple iPhones started to become popular. The hype of a going from a T-9 keyboard, flip phone to an all touch screen iPhone was game changing. This may have been when the great Android vs. iPhone battle begin, also referred to as green bubble vs. blue bubble.

In our present day, texting has almost become a task. There are people who will have over 100 unread messages in their phone, with no intentions of replying to any of them. As far as we have come with being able to text, it seems that people would rather use the talk-to-text feature on their phones, or face-time, or talk to their apple watch. As the evolution of texting starts to become something that isn’t evolving anymore, the beauty of calling and seeing someone’s face while trying to communicate will hopefully *fingers crossed* be making a comeback.



Phoenix Rising: The Fall and Rise of a Writing Genre

The date is December 15, 2017 and an icon in the childhood of many passes away silently without notice…

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) finally shutters its virtual doors on the tail end of 2017, but the announcement barely makes a blip in the news due to the service already having been on its death bed for years.

The once very popular instant messenger began its prolonged death in earnest in 2011 after the dramatic rise in popularity of SMS messaging and social media plummeted its market share to 0.73%. AIM’s demise seemed a natural part of the seemingly inevitable shift from dedicated instant messaging (IM) services towards other digital writing genres that were rapidly growing as the 2010s began but in actuality it did not end up so.

Before continuing, a moment of silence for the deceased (pictured below).

AIM Running Man

AIM Running Man (May 1997 – December 2017)

Research in 2010 by Grabill, et al.’s on “The Writing Lives of College Students” placed instant messaging as the 7th most frequently written genre of writing for college students (just after mostly academic genres). Yet, the same paper show signs indicative that the genre is on the way out in terms of usage and value, which can be seen through college students rating it as the 15th most valuable genre and the close trailing by the just emerging social networking genres just behind it at the 7th and 8th place in frequency. As seen through the demise of AIM a year later, these negative indicators shined true and so began an era in which social media began to dominate (Facebook hits the NASDAQ in 2012 and its billionth user in 2013) and instant messaging became a feature (Facebook messenger, Gmail messenger, etc.) over a dedicated service.

Enter the smartphone, the handheld miracle worker of the 21st century and the savior for instant messaging. Instant messaging apps provided a inexpensive and readily accessible alternative to one of the dominant writing genres of the period — SMS texting (ranked number one in frequency in Grabill, et al.’s research). SMS texting would be surpassed by IM apps in volume of messages in 2013, and two years later a single IM app (WhatsApp) alone would account for more messages daily than SMS texting as a whole, thus the instant messaging writing genre began its climb back towards the top.

Now, not only has instant messaging majorly beat out the former number one (SMS texting), but IM has also beat out the other writing genre which had edged it out years prior with IM apps now holding 20% more active monthly users over that of social networks as of 2020.

Picture of various instant messaging apps, such as Snapchat, WeChat, and WhatsApp

Various instant messaging apps (such as Snapchat, WeChat, and WhatsApp)

Through it all instant messaging has endured, and I believe it will continue to do so for many years more since it is marked by two essential traits in any frequently used genre of written communication — versatility and accessibility.

So, here’s to the the one who all instant messaging apps can thank a lil’ for their existence — thanks AIM.