Could Google WAVE goodbye to twitter?

Google never cease to astonish me with their innovations. They are often criticized these days for being too big. Sometimes they seem to be into simply everything, and big powerful companies tend to scare us. But just when you think they can’t get any bigger, they up their game (again), and bring something out that is truly huge.

In typical Google style, they waited until the second day of the Google Developer Conference in the Moscone Center, San Francisco on May 27 – 28, 2009, to show us there biggest secret, WAVE. I’ve pasted the 1 hour 20 minute keynote video of below (for those of you that may have just woken up from a coma and havn’t seen it).

Google don’t normally make this sort of announcement, this early in a products development, but they have made an exception for WAVE. The announcement has already set the development and tech communities on fire, Youtube simply couldn’t handle demand for streaming the movie on the night of its release, (i had to wait several hours for things to calm down enough to access it), and twitter is still positively buzzing with comments on WAVE (which is a little ironic as WAVE could soon replace many existing communications channels like Twitter).

So what is Google WAVE? It is an entirely new communications model.
The Google Maps team, lead by Lars and Jens Rasmussen, have developed an application to allow people to communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and other tools, all within a standard browser.

So what makes WAVE different? for a start the whole approach to communication is different. Although unified communications has been around a while, it has always imitated nonelectronic forms of communication, but the Wave team threw away the old rule books and started again from scratch.

Over the past year Twitter has started to changed the way that we think about communications, its faster, its more inclusive (conversations are with groups rather than individuals), more accessible (searchable) , its far more personal and its creating new collaborative communities. WAVE is likely to take this to a new level, no longer are users limited to 140 characters, no longer do they have to wait until a reply is complete (you see them as they’re typed) no longer do you have to link to photos, videos, blog posts, you can include them all in a wave, and collaborate on them in real time.

Unlimited by the old rules of communication, WAVE is almost bound to change the way we communicate, but are businesses ready to make the change? Are our bosses ready to accept that online collaboration and communication can save more time than it costs, are corporations ready to take the leaps of faith required to trust employees enough to express opinions freely, do IT departments have the resources to keep up to date and can we find solutions to all the legal issues that this might raise, are the laws even capable of being applied to this kind of technology.

Like all waves, this WAVE is likely to gather speed and momentum before it reaches its full height and comes crashing down.

Related posts: Google WAVE | Releasing a wave of possabilities

Could Google WAVE goodbye to twitter?

21 thoughts on “Could Google WAVE goodbye to twitter?

  1. Nice post David – I don’t expect that WAVE will replace Twitter and it seems to be one of the few platforms that the Google bunch seem happy to coexist with (or at least ride on the coat-tails of for a little while).

    The mechanism are quite different and I think micro-blogging and the collaborative nature of WAVE are two web paradigms we will happily carry forward into the next generation of the web.

    I have written a post commenting on people’s attempts to draw parallels between WAVE and current techs. From my perspective most of those attempts are largely flawed – would be interested on your thoughts…

  2. Thanks for the comment, i’d have to agree, i don’t think that there will be a sudden jump from twitter to wave, more a gradual migration. Its likey that google are in a better possition to monetize it so that its more sustainable in the longer term and the ability to incorporate photos, video and other media straight into a wave will ultimately make it more useful.

  3. I totally agree with the impact that WAVE will have.

    Apart form the innovation and power of WAVE what amazes me is that we have taken email for granted for so long that we have not challenged or questioned email’s supremacy. The immediacy and collaborative nature of WAVE cannot be ignored within enterprises, the benefits it will bring in terms of productivity and knowledge sharing would appear to be huge.

    With its ability to have a live 2 way subscription – for want of a better word – to a blog changes how we interact with blogs. Where will the conversation take place, what is the benefit of going to the blog when we can read and participate from within WAVE.

    I suspect the changes to other forms of social media will be as significant.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I’d have to agree it’s amazing how long we did just accepted email, although i think in some ways there has been a movement away from email towards services like twitter in the recent months. In fact possibly this shift towards real time services like twitter has paved the way for WAVE to some extend.

    I the ability to take waves (or elements of waves) and add them to blogs as a historic record and the ability to encourage live debate to a blog post will completely make us rething the way that that comments and discussion forums work.

    I look forward to seeing how the internet community react to twitter and what other amazing revolutions are to come.

  5. wecandobiz says:

    To my mind Wave is a converged messaging application which will enable me to manage all my conversations no matter where they are happening: mail, IM or socnets. I see Wave as helping me make sense of all the dialogue I have in all of the places across the internet. To that end it may well be the only place that I message (mail, tweet, post etc.) but it won’t stop me using the networks themselves, as these provide a level of content and value that goes beyond just messaging.

    Of course, I may have misunderstood what Wave can do — details are scarce, after all — but I’ll hold this position until I’ve tried it.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

  6. Hi Ian, thanks for taking the time to add a comment, much appreciated.

    As I understand it google is open source and they are working with various developers to allow other systems to integrate into the wave platform, but it does require html 5 enpowered browsers and i aspect also requires google gears. I’m not sure whether you’ll get all the functionality when you use it with other mail and instant messaging systems, although as you say until we get a copy to play with its pretty hard to say.

    I also think that it has the potential to be much more that a converged messaging system, and am looking forward to seeing an explosion of new services and exciting new concepts in the way we communicate, collaborate, work and play.

  7. wecandobiz says:

    David, I share your enthusiasm for what it could offer, EVEN if it is only converged messaging and collaboration. I think we are all busting to know more.

    At the back of my mind though is the fact that not all Google has touched has turned to gold. They have a reasonable collection of White Elephants in their closet, Lively, Jaiku and Orkut being just three — coincidentally, all previous social media/collaboration type offerings.

    It promises a lot and could easily revolution e-mail — an area of technology that hasn’t seen too many innovations in the past twenty years — but it’ll be best to judge a year after release I reckon.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

  8. David, Nice article, and I’m as enthusiastic about Google Wave as you are, but I don’t think twitter has anything to fear from wave, because in the basis twitter is a broadcasting communication method and Wave is more like IM and email a user to user communication method. In my opinion the later two, email and IM have much more to worry then twitter.

  9. Doug says:

    Another gegah, gizmo, gimmick that may or may not have valuable application in a noise inundated world. Replace Twitter….great, when only about 30% (probable a lot less)of the people, even those using the internet extensively, have any real idea what it is. Social networking is not communism, its anarchy run amok (is that redundant?). An yet here I am hip deep in the mud with the rest of you geeks.

    Until an application delivers enough value to hold its own against new competition for the attention of the users, long enough to become more than just another cute, interesting waste of time, we’ll be stuck in this endless circle of fanfare, enthusiasm, excitement, disenchantment, and death for each new thing, one after another. Email remains not because it’s an attractive diversion, but because it delvers a value (of course, it is slow, clumsy, and has been co-opted by the worst of the spam universe).

    But, then new things are fun, if only to fill up our time till we move on to the next big blog.

    Doug Shackelford
    VP CBD Exselleration, LLC

  10. Wow i guess you have some pretty strong feelings on that then! and you make some good points.

    For the vast majority email is going to be the best sollution for a while, but i guess the same cold have been said of the fax before email took over.

    I have high hopes for technologies like Wave mainly because they are not just questioning whether email is brocken, but are suggesting better ways to work, and embrassing open source and working with communities to ensure that what is built will really work and have a future.

  11. Great point peter! i’m really interested to see how Wave could work in a broadcast 1 to many capacity, in addition to the 1 to 1 and one to few capacity of email and instant messaging. It would be great if it was flexible enough to be able to work with both. It will also be interesting in a blog comments situation where you could post images and videos and comments straight into discussions.

  12. Isn’t wave what meta social bookmarking sites like Diigo are trying to create? It’s a way to combine urls (wether that be images, blogs, mails, whatever) in threads shared with other users. Google just presented a seperate API to handle it but unfortunately also introduced a new Google protocol instead of using semantic web standards which would be a more open framework to use.

  13. Nice post Dave. Wave looks like it has mindblowing potential, but it will be interesting to see whether Google can harness that, and like Ian says (11:52), ensure it doesn’t turn into another Orkut-style white elephant.

    Personally, I think they’re trying to do too much with one product. The sheer multiplicity of the Internet is one of its greatest virtues, and I can’t imagine anything more mind-numbing than using the same channel for email, IM, blogs, news, etc. What’s the craic here, are Google trying to become the flippin’ Internet or what? ;>)

    @Peter (12:28) – I disagree. Twitter isn’t a broadcast tool, it’s a many-to-many communication tool. But I think it’ll be safe for now. I’m a big fan of the 140 character limit – I don’t think it’s a barrier to communication, but rather enhances it, through encouraging people to be concise and thus more effective. I’m not sure Wave’s unlimited space will really endear it to anyone…

  14. As always some real words of wisdom there Dan.

    As i understand it, Wave is an opensource platform / infrastructure, in that the underlying technology can be used in many different ways, my many different developers, so you won’t necessarily have one giant all encompassing application, but rather if you are a wave user than you will be able to log into a wave enabled blog and communicate on that in much the same way as you would within a normal wave, so you could comment in real time with other users, using text, images, movies in a very interactive way.

    I agree with you on the 140 charachter discipline. Sometimes i wish my blog would limit me to 450 words as that would force me to be vary more disciplined in that too!

    Have a nice weekend Sir!

  15. But then you wouldn’t be able to get stuck into the nitty gritty of things ;>)

    Just awoken from my coma and watched some of the Wave demo. It does look amazing. The real-time communication and cross platform integration is really clever, but the editing aspect is going to revolutionise how people collaborate on documents and projects, expecially in massive organisations. Christ, Newcastle Uni wouldn’t know what hit it!

    But I think there’s a danger it could result in complete chaos through sheer information overload, and it won’t be until it goes commercial that we see how effective it can be.

    On the downside, I’ve never been a fan of the Google interface in terms of design (in my humble opinion of course) and I think the Wave interface looks pretty uninspiring. But if it’s open source, I guess that could pave the way for designers to play with code, and come up with some nice themes.

    Anyway, I can’t believe we’re already talking so nostalgically about Twitter…!

    Have a good one too DC!

  16. Cheers Dan,

    I wasn’t sure about the gmail interface when i first started using it either. I think i was so used to the microsoft way of doing mail, that i found google really unintuitive, but the more i used it the more i liked it. Labels are now really intuitive, but the chat invites n stuff are a bit unclear.

    I think i must have a bit of an anarchist streak, as i’m looking forward to the choas! It isn’t until we get to that stage that we’ll see the real innovations.

    My biggest problem with wave is seeing how it could be used in a corporate world, gmail tends to be personal accounts, that could be a problem for IT departments, how would you create, monitor, control protect, data/accounts if it was being used in this kind of way.

    It is services like Twitter, that have got us to a position where we can grasp concepts like waves, so i hope that they’ll find a way to co-exist.

    Bring it on!

  17. You guys seem to be having a great conversation on google wave here, so i thought you might be interested to watch this little clip on how wave will use the spelly widget to handle spell checking in a coloborative world.

    Hope you find it interesing!

  18. Whats new?

    I really don’t see that what he talks about has anything to do with natural language processing. They just use statitics to do single word spell checking and phrase database based translation.

    Statistics can help with isolated problems like that to a certain extend. But take a look at synonyms. Why hasn’t Google used these methods to expand user queries with synonyms? That’s because statistical methods cannot do this. Lots of other natural language problems are like this.

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