What's Google Wave? It's this;

Google_Wave

This morning, the dear Kartooner invited me to Google Wave (and before you flood any of us with invite requests: at the moment there aren’t any invites to go around!), so I’ve finally had a chance to play around with the new toy. I think I finally get what it is. It’s taken me a while to understand and so as a public service, I’ll try and explain it here in a neatly readable bulletted list.

  • Google Wave is a reinvention of email.
  • Instead of clicking “Compose” in your email app, you click “New Wave”.
  • Instead of adding email addresses for the people you want to send email to, you drag Google Wave contacts into the recipient field.
  • Instead of clicking “Send Email”, your wave has already been sent by the moment you added recipients.
  • The result is an already-sent-email which everyone can edit in realtime, which renders replies moot.

So that’s the core tenet of what Google is, and incidentally this has a bunch of neat side-effects:

  • It makes sense to keep a wave for later reference, since it’s more “alive” than a sent email.
  • It’s kinda like a group chat as well as an email, since it’s live-editable by the recipients.
  • It’s also a Google Docs-like document editor, since you could use it co-author a document with your fellow wavers.
  • It’s also a todo list or note archiver, since you can create waves with no recipients.
  • It’s also a multiplayer game since you can add all sorts of gadgets to your multi-user waves, such as Sudoku.
  • It’s also an RSS reader of sorts, since a Wave can be any sort of blogpost, and the Wave API will no doubt allow you to post waves from outside the interface.

To the best of my ability, this is what I think Google Wave is. Awesome.

4 thoughts on “What's Google Wave? It's this;”

  1. See, that’s not what I think it is.
    I think it’s a project collaboration tool more than anything. Google’s pitching it as an e-mail replacement, but I just don’t see that happening. Not only for legacy and inertial reasons, but because it’s too ‘muddy’ in its treatment of replies and threads and what not.
    E-mail may be old, but it works exactly _because_ it’s so simple.

    1. Joen says:

      Michael Heilemann: I think it’s a project collaboration tool more than anything. Google’s pitching it as an e-mail replacement, but I just don’t see that happening.

      Well it certainly doesn’t help Google Wave that you have to have a Google Wave account to both send and receive waves… so I’m also skeptic for now. But if I do think about Google Wave as stemming from someone who wanted to reinvent email, a lot of things, mentally, fall in place.

      And yes, I think it will work as a project collaboration tool. Instead of creating a new Google Doc and sharing it with people as I’ve done so far, I’ll be creating waves in the future. Sure.

      Michael Heilemann: Not only for legacy and inertial reasons, but because it’s too ‘muddy’ in its treatment of replies and threads and what not.

      In my mind, that’s not a problem with the wave “skeleton” if you will, but rather the surface layer, which is incidentally the most easy one to tweak. In other words, a few rounds of usability testing, some design tweaks and in a few years, Google will have unmuddied it.

      Michael Heilemann: E-mail may be old, but it works exactly _because_ it’s so simple.

      But I don’t think email is that simple, to be honest, and i’m not laying all the blame on spam here.

      Let’s jump right past the whole issue of POP3, IMAP and Webmail, which certainly complexifies email tech in its own right.

      Email is based on the file metaphor. You send a file. You receive a file. You store a file. (That file being the email, not attachments, bear with me).

      Things are moving towards the “i don’t care where files are stored” cloud metaphor; we’ve already seen that with iTunes, iPhoto and Google Docs — Docs being the best example. You don’t store 50 copies of the same file, you only store it once, and _access_ it from several places.

      Google Wave, as seen though the “email reinvention” googles fixes this problem. It’s imap on steroids. You don’t send something, you give people access to something. This is a paradigm away from the file-based email, and in my mind, that is simple. Email is not. “Sent mail”, “All mail”, “inbox”, “outbox”. SHOO! Sent, archived, received, not sent — those are attributes of a single email. Rid me of it!

  2. Oldster says:

    I’m not sure of the advantages yet but thanks for the explanation, even a old user can understand.

  3. Arunabh Das says:

    The big question is not “what is google wave?”. The big question is – “where is google going with this?”. Google never does anything unless there is an ad-based way to monetize it. How will google wave be monetized and what are the implications for regular email? Also – If google wave is essentially like a multi-user chatroom client, will we get to see more advanced collaborative features on there, such as a whiteboarding widget built into google wave? What about sound and video editing collaboratively? Google. Are you listening? Hire me. – Arunabh Das

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