Google Wave is a plumbing project for the web



So, Google Wave makes people unproductive? Says Robert Scoble in a good post where he writes down his first impressions with the new service. Robert says:

It is noisy, but the noise often happens way down in a wave deep in your inbox.

This is far far worse than email. (New email always shows up at the top of my inbox, where Google Wave can bring me new stuff deep down at the bottom of my inbox).

It’s far far worse than Twitter (where new stuff ALWAYS shows up at top). It’s even far worse than FriendFeed, which my friends always said was too noisy. At least there when you write a comment on an item it pops to the top of the page.

And, worse, when I look at my Google Wave page I see dozens of people all typing to me in real time. I don’t know where to look and keeping up with this real time noise is less like email, which is like tennis (hit one ball at a time) and more like dodging a machine gun of tennis balls. Much more mentally challenging

This doesn’t come as a real surprise. Making a conversation real-time can create an overflow of information. But I think it is too soon to assume that Wave will crash on a beach. I once wrote down 10 reasons why Google Wave would change the way we communicate. Google Wave will become far more important than the first demo/service we see people struggling with now. It’s a bit odd to quote myself in a post, but I still like what I’ve written about this earlier:

Whereas services like e-mail, instant messaging and social networks always have been build on the premise of a walled garden business model, Google Wave can become the new communication structure services can develop upon. It is set up from the start as an open source project with a clear focus on development API’s. I’m sure that Google will launch a Google Wave service at some point that will attract many users. But it also allows any other service to use that same paradigm to implement unified online communication.

Google has not only spent time and energy making sure Wave can suck content into the platform, it has spent as much time and energy making sure it can get out too! Farewell destination based business models. Farewell walled gardens. If Wave gets adapted, it will put the user in control, and that is exactly what we need to do to break out of our current web 2.0 boundaries. That is what makes this development so remarkable.

Robert runs into the problem that online conversations, the way he currently runs them, aren’t really possible in real-time. It’s just too much input that needs to be processed, even when you have a 30 inch screen in front of you. That is not a real problem though. Google Wave is a technology that can be decentralized. It doesn’t need to be used in a public ‘conversation’ with thousands of people. Google Wave will help us scale down the conversation, which btw is the most obvious way to get rid of noise. It helps us move away from destiny based web services. And,  Google Wave has taken as much effort to allow you to export data out of the service, as you can bring in.

Robert ends his post with tips to scale down the noise, fitting perfectly.

Google Wave is a plumbing project for the web. We need to start using it for what it is or can become. It has the potential to add a new communication layer on top that will not limit our conversations to a single service. I think that is the biggest win for the web in quite a while.

Update: While I pressed the publish button, I came across this good post that is making a similar point.


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5 Responses to Google Wave is a plumbing project for the web

  1. Bertil says:

    To scale down the noise and still let anyone partake, you’ll need an editor/community manager to summarise a conversation. Google needs to implement a two-step content-producing module, not unlike wiki, that allows that.

  2. Bertil,

    that could be a possible way of scaling down the noise too. I’m sure we will see addons in that direction at some point.

    Talking with less people/the right people in real-time will help too 🙂

  3. wbw_Jeff says:

    I haven’t read the Scoble post yet but it sounds like he is making what is becoming a common argument – that the Wave that is being tested just has too many bells and whistles going on for any user to concentrate on the subject matter. But lets have some confidence that they will find a way to bring those things in line eventually. For example I think you can turn off the live typing part.

    Although it might just prove to be too cumbersome for the masses. A Facebook for a crowd that maybe just wants a Twitter, or even a Facebook-lite. They should really monitor every feature to see if it really helps or not. But I hear it has an awesome spell checker.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    agree. It’s just a first demo of capabilities. The developers around the world now need to take over and start building a communication layer for the web. And yes, the spelling checker is pretty awesome 😉

  5. mgloerich says:

    Bertil, work-flow management kinda features sure are important on the long run. It’s the same with big sites. CMS’s are having a hard time implementing features which allow (content/community)managers to really do their job with ease and granularity. I know there are ‘plugins’ that make cms’s part of the total content production system (think Woodwing etc.), but this adds to instability and lock-in of the system since there are no official protocols of how these systems should interact with each other.

    Wave on the other hand IS a protocol, so it is officially documented on how higher-level (workflow management) applications can make use of the protocol.

    The big accomplishment (and threat!) of Wave is the way they sidestepped notoriously time consuming RFC and IEEE protocol development.

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