Saturday, May 30, 2009
Yesterday at their I/O conference, Google demonstrated a new communication/collaboration tool that appears to be intended to kill email as the standard form of personal web communication. My first feeling is: Good! Have you ever tried to use email for long, branching communications? The flat, threaded view is trash, and a tree view is not much better. I would love to see this get mainstream attention because it might not only kill email, but also kill off less collaboration tools I personally find less than enjoyable to use. Sharepoint, for instance, I have found to be clunky and have poor integration with email. That isn't really the fault of Sharepoint - email was never meant to be an issue tracker or dynamically update websites. Nor would you want it to, it doesn't have the tools. One of the first things they show off with Wave is how easy it is to do just that (particularly bugtracking). Wave is also free, open source (in some fashion or another), and federated. That last bit means your Waves don't necessarily need to live or interact with Google at all - just like internal email servers you can whip up a Wave server and apparently quite easily. The motivation for Google doesn't immediately occur to me. Best, moderately educated guess is that it might have something to do with HTML5 - the next version of HTML currently supported by roughly zero browsers yet - will be easier to index and search than Flash/Flex/Silverlight. Is Wave supposed to be HTML5's killer app, driving the browsers to pick up support for it faster? As a side note, there appears to be a conspicuous number of references to the television show Firefly in the above presentation and in the project. In the show, the standard communication term used was 'wave', the poll robot they demonstrated included an option for Serenity as the Best Movie Ever, etc. This isn't too wild for them. Keep in mind that Google Earth was apparently inspired by the "Earth" program described in Snowcrash.