(NEW YORK, NY) Several of the world’s largest technology companies have issued a joint statement outlining a new chat protocol that will allow seamless integration across major apps. This will allow anyone using a modern chat app to send a message to anyone else on the planet, even if they don’t have the same app installed.
“What we’ve noticed with smartphones in particular is that people really don’t like having to take a screenshot of an embarrassing private message on Facebook, upload that to WhatsApp, and finally post it to Twitter,” Brian Ruffle, the Executive Overlord of Privacy at MSN Messenger said. Ruffle went on to describe the new protocol, dubbed the Chat HTTPS Unified Meme Protocol (or “CHUMP” for short), as the way of the future.
The CHUMP protocol is recognised by industry leaders as being the equivalent of e-mail’s SMTP protocol. “The critical success factor in e-mail’s success was that SMTP allowed someone to send an e-mail, without knowing what technology the recipient was using. The recipient could be using any server to receive the e-mail, and any program to read it. As technology became more advanced, clever innovation allowed those very same e-mails to be consumed on a mobile device or a watch.”
It is widely acknowledged that each chat platform currently behaves like a silo, where messages are aggressively guarded from being exported outside their digital fortress walls. “The irony is that the key selling point of many of these platforms, to be able to rapidly communicate within close-knit communities, is now their fatal flaw. They just can’t get non-users to join their silo,” Ruffle was at pains to point out.
CHUMP is the culmination of almost a decade of research by IEEE’s Joint Chat Expert Group (“JCEG”), and files have been officially assigned a “.jcg” extension. Consultation within the industry has been unprecedented, with leading platforms already committing to the new protocol in time for its winter 2018 launch. As well as consumer heavyweights like WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and iMessage, CHUMP has secured support from enterprise applications such as Slack, HipChat, Microsoft Teams, BlackBerry Messenger, and Skype-for-consumer-for-business. Even platforms that were officially listed on Wikipedia as “defunct” signed up, including ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Sametime, Kik, Wickr, and Windows Live Messenger. Yammer has been the only notable exception, citing compliance concerns and the fact that nobody asked them.
According to the head of research at JCEG, Dr Phillipa Hall, all chat messages can essentially be broken down into two parts – a GIF and a caption. The GIF provides the amusement, while the caption provides context and explains the joke (if you didn’t already get it). “Humans have been chatting for millennia, and it’s only now, with terabytes of ‘academic research’ data, that we can now properly encode this taxonomy.”
At a recent press conference, The Gopher Files asked Dr Hall how the data supports this conclusion, given that amusing GIFs were a recent phenomenon, and many of CHUMP’s platforms don’t even support the animated file type. “If you think about it, a meme is really only a GIF frozen in time. If you repeat the same picture quickly enough, it’s indistinguishable from a static image. In that sense, AIM was ahead of the curve in allowing these so-called frozen GIFs. They just didn’t know it at the time.”
For the platforms without images, JCEG devised a special “No-op” image, effectively a 1×1 semi-transparent pixel to be included with a text caption. “Again, this is indistinguishable from having no image at all, so it provides perfect backward compatibility for the earlier platforms.”
The Department of Justice has been closely monitoring CHUMP, and a preliminary report concluded that its release violates anti-trust laws and it should be shut down immediately. A spokesperson for DoJ told assembled reporters that the protocol is an attempt by established players to assert their authority over chat clients, and therefore lessen competition. “Before, every millennial had at least 8 chat apps on their phone. The introduction of this so-called ‘protocol’ will reduce that to one, maybe two if they forgot to delete Google+. Less chat apps means reduced competition. And reduced competition means this is downright illegal.”
This is not the first time many of these platforms have had a run-in with the DoJ, although cases are almost always settled before they proceed to trial, and with no admission of wrongdoing. Press releases from DoJ have described the relevant conduct as “collusion”, rather than “alleged collusion”. Commentators have taken this as an indication of the strength of the DoJ case.
The DoJ spokesperson went on to say that he was fed up with GIFs and would stop at nothing to bring those responsible to justice. Quoting Gargamel, he screamed “I’ll get you, I’ll get all of you if it’s the last thing I ever do” before being forcibly removed from the stage. A replacement spokesperson told shocked onlookers that the DoJ does not comment on open investigations, implying that there was indeed a pending anti-trust suit.
People can expect chats to move to a CHUMP-based protocol in the coming months, and will see their apps update hourly as bugs are addressed in real time.
Drainage Systematica did not respond by the time this story went to press, but released a statement through Her Majesty’s Prison Service that they are thrilled with the idea of being able to access more data.