It looks like what happens when you take some diced Facebook, some cloves of Skype, a few pinches of MSN and Yahoo Messager, a few slices of Gmail and add some open sauce (sorry). Sound like a recipe for disaster? Well, Google says it's the future - and it's tasted it.
When Google waves, better Wave back
There's a good reason for why it looks like it does: it brings together aspects of email, instant messaging, social networking, wiki and web chat into one great big, confusing user interface. Whereas we're used to going to specialist vendors for all those things, Google's been building the equivalent of a web 2.0 supermarket. (Not that it seems to be selling anything - AdSense advertisements are conspicuous by their absence in the above screenshot, which has been doing the rounds.)
Tech commentators are saying that Wave could be a "game-changing" application. One of the reasons seems to be that everything happens in real-time, meaning that you can see everything your message buddies are typing almost as fast as they can. You can do things like embed your "Wave" onto another website or blog, edit anything somebody else has written (like with wiki) or play everything that's happened in a "Wave" back in the order it happened. Not only can it autocorrect grammar but it automatically translates things as you type; it supports Facebook-style embedded applications as well.
Google Wave also brings "robots" to the table. While they won't be voiced by Ewan McGregor or Robin Williams, they will be able to interact with the actual people - and even "blip" (no, not like R2D2: a "blip" is one message in a "wave"). According to the Mountain View firm, "A robot can read the contents of a wave in which it participates, modify the wave's contents, add or remove participants, and create new blips and new waves." One step closer to living in The Matrix, then.
So: some things borrowed, some things old, some things new (and you know what, aren't waves blue?). But do you really want people to be able to see what you're typing as you write it - hasn't that always been one of the best things about instant messaging software and emailling: the ability to rethink, reword and delete? Writers of angry letters just won't get the chance to put them in the draw instead of sending them. Conversely, imagine bringing all the fun of wiki into your everyday conversations: on those occasions when you claim you didn't really say something that you really did, you can go back and edit the wave so you didn't! You go rewrite that history, slugger.
I know what you're thinking: being cynical, toward a Google product? Have I no fear of the Thought Police? Well, Wave was actually designed by brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, whom Google acquired when it bought Where 2 Technologies (creators of what would become Google Maps). And, after Google made the Wave code open source, they're wanting other developers to add "all sorts of cool stuff" to it before it goes live later this year. Not everyone's sure that'll go to plan. "You start throwing these complex things together and things start breaking," says Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle. "Google has not shown an ability to drive the kind of collaboration it would take to make it happen." Thought Police, please, arrest that man instead.
[ AFP | Mashable ]