Google Wave: who, what, where, why, when?

What the heck is Google Wave and what are people saying about it? In this IT Blogwatch Extra, Richi Jennings watches bloggers watch the Wave wow-fest. Not to mention a live demo of an antique modem from 1964...

Harry McCracken has a crack at explaining it:

Google Wave: who, what, where, why, when?
A new service which–well, it’s one of the most ambitious services that Google or anyone else has cooked up? How ambitious? Project leader Lars Rasmussen says that it began with the question “What might e-mail look like if it were invented today?” ... It:
  • Is a service that looks like a rich piece of client software;
  • Behaves like sophisticated threaded e-mail;
  • Acts like IM when multiple collaborators are online at once.
  • Is one of the most real-time collaborative tools I’ve ever seen.
  • Has revision marking and versioning for workgroup editing.
  • Has instant photo sharing.
  • Allows its functionality to be embedded into blogs and social networks;
  • Can serve as a container for OpenSocial applications;
  • Has what Google says is a revolutionary spell checker;
  • Comes in mobile flavors for Android and iPhone;
  • Is an open-source project that lets developers write both Wave extensions ... and their own servers.

Jordan Golson offers his take:

Wave could be a competitor to Outlook and Office if Google were to roll Docs/Gmail/Cal under the Wave umbrella. And as Om pointed out in a tweet, it could be a strong competitor to Microsoft SharePoint. When he asked about Sharepoint at the Q&A, however, the Googlers brushed it off, saying Wave has “far greater breadth,” and is superior because of its openness and federation model.

The breathtaking arrogance of blowing off potential competition and touting tech buzzwords rather than at least giving a cursory examination as to how one might make money from a product is the Google way. Technology is all well and good, but at some point one must go from “Look at this cool thing we’ve designed!” to “Look at all the money we’re making from this cool thing!”

Lisa Hoover cleans up:

Wave is an elaborate mashup of collaboration, documentation, and real-time messaging that Google hopes will make people finally sever ties with AOL, Microsoft, and other online services. Its function is similar to what would happen if you linked your team's computer desktops together, then put a giant virtual whiteboard in front of everyone.


I think it's a safe bet Wave will fly in enterprise. If nothing else, the magic words "improved workflow" will entice companies to at least try it. There's no question that freelancers, telecommuters, and anyone who relies on remote collaboration will jump on Wave the day it's available, and stick with it if it helps save time and money.

MG Siegler was shocked. Shocked, I tell you:

The initial audience response to Google Wave was huge; there was a standing ovation the likes of which I haven’t seen at a tech event, including the Apple events in recent years.

Darth Jure asks:

Is this like Sharepoint? Everyone in my office hates Sharepoint - but everyone keeps using it because there is no better alternative. Hopefully Wave will be bette.

Viktor Komaromi, for one, welcomes our new software overlords:

Makes Palm Synergy look like something written by a 4 year old. All hail Google the Conqueror.

But Chris Dannen is absolutely terrified:

Am I the only one who writes an email, then revises it for tone and clarity? It's creepy enough that other people know when I'm typing on Gtalk. Now they can see what I'm thinking as I try out sentences?


Email chains--the closest thing to waves at this point--are all fun and games until someone CC's the wrong person, like a parent, relative, boss or overly-sensitive co-worker. ... [Wave] makes keeping track of participants a lot harder. Subtract the aforementioned opportunities to self-edit, and you have a social trainwreck ready and waiting.

So what's your take? Get involved and leave a comment.

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter or FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: contact Richi.

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