After being involved with computers, software and the web for the better part of the last twenty years I have I guess in a lot of ways become rather jaded at all the pronouncement that come our way. This is going to change the web, that is going to change the web, superlatives are constantly being thrown around. In the end though most of these have really been nothing more than improvements upon what we already have been using.
That could very well change with Google Wave.
I don’t say this lightly but from everything that I have been reading (and trying hard to digest) for the last few hours I have a gut feeling that Google Wave could very well be one of those rare cusp moments when the way we do things really change. Not only will it change the way we do things but that change stands a very good chance of being persuasive because Google will be making Wave open sourced and with an open protocol. This means that literally anyone will be able to become a wave provider. The only thing I haven’t been able to clearly understand yet is if separate Waves will be able to communicate with each other, at this point I can only assume so given the open nature planned for Wave.
If you want a clearer understanding of what Wave will be able to do I recommend reading Tim O’Reilly’s post at the O’Reilly Radar blog as he breaks it down pretty good. the short form though is imagine combining your contacts, e-mail, IM, instant interaction, drag and drop browser interaction, the ability to playback a complete conversation and do this all in real time through your browser. As O’Reilly puts it
Let’s say I want to communicate with someone. I start a wave, just as I might start an email message. The recipient(s) see an incoming wave, just as they see an email today. Where the magic starts is with replies. In email, you have the choice of including no context, only a portion of the message you’re replying to, or the whole thing. In the first case, you need to go back to the original message for context; in the second, you have wasted copies going back and forth. Come into the middle of a long thread and you may be replying to a discussion that has already moved on or covered the point you want to express. But what if there were only one message, shared in the cloud? Now, your comment on the second paragraph is attached directly to that point in the conversation. There are no redundant copies of portions of the message, as replies are seen in context.
While it is still early days and much of Wave is still being worked on this is what your browser desktop could look like (courtesy of O’Reilly Radar)
In the video I watch with the team behind Wave they might not have wanted to admit that this is a Twitter killer, in fact they went to great lengths to say it was an addition to it, but if I was Twitter; and quite possibly FriendFeed, I would be very nervous at this point. Once Wave steps beyond the developer playground stage I believe we will see a major shift in how the Web is used.
From a bloggers point of view this could one of the best things that happens as from the beginning Wave is being built so that we can include a Wave as part of a post which means any conversation in that wave about the post can happen real-time. This is all a part of the incredibly rich API that is being built in the Wave platform. Again from Tim O’Reilly’s post
The API has been used to build a bunch of cool extensions: Bloggy, a blog client, lets you make a blog post as a wave. When people comment, they join the conversation. Spelly is a spell-checker that uses the entire corpus of the web as its dictionary. Linky is a link-recognition engine that is clever enough to recognize that the link you just entered is a YouTube video, or a link to a photo, and give you the option to embed the target of the link into the wave. There’s even a twitter client – you can tweet into and out of a wave! And of course, buggy, a bug-reporting tool that can also be a participant in a wave.
My one problem with this is that it is currently all browser based and I am not a believer of living and breathing in the browser. What I do hope is that because of this rich API, and hopefully developer environment Google wants to create around Wave, that this could also transform our desktops. that however remains to be seen but damn it almost makes me want to crack out me old developer tools.
Now I don’t know what the timetable is for this to actually become something that we can start using everyday (I’ve signed up for notifications of this) but I can tell you I haven’t felt this excited about something happening on the web as I am about this.
Could this really be the wave of our web future?