Friday, May 29, 2009

Wave of The Future

Very impressive early release version of a new cloud-based application from Google, called Google Wave. What is it? For lack of a better term, it completely reinvents the way we use the Internet to communicate. Today, we have all of these different silos: e-mail, IM, social networks, SMS, and more. The two brothers who gave us Google Maps have their sights set on changing that: Wave aims to pull those all together into a central interface, but that's just the start.

In the video walkthrough of this early version, here were some of the powerful features I saw:
  • The ability to have multiple recipients commenting inline as part of a communication. Picture being able to respond to paragraphs 2 and 3 of a 5 paragraph e-mail, and have everyone else on the thread see those replies inline, without having to keep seeing the original message requoted over and over.
  • Let's say you add a new participant to the conversation later on (think a new cc: on a third reply of an email). Instead of having to sort through the whole conversation and figure out what the timeline was of the participants, the new participant can press a "playback" button, and watch the conversation unfold, just as it did.
  • Inline autocorrect and autoreplace for spelling errors. I use a program, As-U-Type, to do this, but this feature is built-in to Wave.
  • Ability to publish a Wave to a blog site, and, using embedded API's, allow blog readers to contribute to the conversation right from the blog. Even better, being able to have the conversations you have participated in on far-flung sites automatically show up in Wave, and keep you apprised on new activity, allow you to participate, etc., without having to constantly check back on the site. Imagine THAT for tech support forums!
  • Collaborative content editing with attribution. This is one of the reasons I love Google Docs so much: it allows multiple people to make changes, real-time, in a document and collaborate it. Imagine the same control here: you start a conversation on a vacation plan, for instance, and other travelers with you can add things they want to do, and all participants can automatically see who edited what, again with a timeline playback.
  • Ability to embed other Waves in your Wave, as well as collaborative tagging of Waves. This means if you tag a Wave with a term, all participants of the Wave have access to that tag, and can search by it. All you need is one Type A personality on the Wave, and all of the other participants benefit. :-)
  • How many times have you wanted to recall an e-mail? You can't, really. If it's a Wave, just remove the participant and it's gone from them...instantly. Seriously, instantly. Gone. Like it never happened. Wow.
  • Extensibility for all other services, like Twitter. Have your Twitter feed in Wave, and be able to respond and interact with it from within Wave, and have it automatically publish to Twitter, as if you were on it. Now, picture the same with IM, SMS, Facebook...anything you can imagine.
It's a long video demo, but a fascinating glimpse into what could be the future of how we communicate and share.

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