(I was so excited when I watched the Google Wave video that I had to write this while I watched. That’ll explain the overload of optimism and excitement.)
Google seems to do all the obvious things: make free e-mail with an excellent spam filter, take the existing phone system and digitize it a little, make an online word processor and collaboration, and provide a really nice search engine.
This year, Google is doing it again. Two engineers in Google’s forces stepped back and examined the world of communication we’ve built. We all know that e-mail is ancient and inefficient, and they knew that too. So, they decided to completely reinvent the entire communication system.
It’s called Google Wave. It’s really simple.
Instead of thinking of communication as messages that are literally shoved around from place to place, Google Wave thinks of messages as being part of a conversation, which doesn’t move anywhere. Rather, a conversation between two (or more!) people occurs in a single, shared location.
Messages can be very long or very short. You can send long paragraphs of text in an e-mail format, or you can communicate back and forth in a texting-like format. There is no limits to what you can do with these messages.
If two participants of a conversation are online at the same time, they can instantly see when someone’s sent a new message or started a new conversation. If two participants are viewing the same conversation, they can see messages update instantly on each other’s screens, the same way instant messaging does. Google Wave goes even further: if a participant is typing a reply, any other participant can see each character as it’s being typed.
Google Wave also allows people to reply to specific paragraphs of a message, so that threading is tracked very efficiently.
In a conversation with three or more people, but you want to reply privately to only one person so that only he/she can see it? Just let Google Wave know. It can change the permissions on any branch of the conversation.
Came late to a conversation, and now the conversation is flooded with messages? Use the playback feature to see each message come up one at a time in the order they were posted, so you can see the conversation evolve in real-time, even though you weren’t present when it happened!
Want to share photos? Drag and drop photos right into the wave. Thumbnails appear instantly on everyone’s screen while the full-sized images upload in the background. Suddenly a shared photo album is constructed. Effortlessly.
Now, embed a conversation on your blog. Whoa, wait a sec’! Google Wave is now in your blog! Remember how you can reply to a paragraph, etc., in a conversation? Guess what Wave can do for your blog? You guessed it! The comments system becomes instantly available through Wave’s interface on your blog. And not only that, but Wave considers this blog “post” as simply another conversation, so it appears in Google Wave as a conversation with normal replies as well!
Google Wave is now no longer just an e-mail client and instant messenger rolled into one, but now it’s your blog too.
Now, go ahead and dream. Dream that this all runs on your iPhone. Or Google Android. All the above features, now available here. Sheer. Brilliance.
Did we forget something? Oh, yes. Right. We forgot editing. How about we let everyone edit any message in a conversation. That’s right. Any message.
Now Google Wave is all of the above and a wiki.
What about history? How do we see what someone originally wrote? Did you forget about the playback feature? Oh yea. Oh yea. That’s right. You can play back edits too!
Everyone can edit at the same time too! Take notes from a class together, have one person go to a meeting, and let others submit comments or questions from the outside, and so on.
Linking between waves. Tagging. Folders. Saved searches. Organization is simple with Google Waves.
Now, throw in extensions (like Firefox Add-ons) that can modify anything the internal code can, from characters you type to messages you send to conversations created, and you have yourself a revolution. Games, movies, and all other sorts of things can be done socially, recorded, for playback later, through extended Wave seamlessly.
Do you want to see this in action? Betcha you do. Go here: