I watched with interest the screencast of Google’s Announcement of their new product called “Google Wave” at the recently concluded Google I/O Conference. Google I/O is the search giant’s annual developer event in San Francisco and was the perfect venue for their launch of a product they envision to be a new platform and really brings with it a new paradigm for communication and collaboration.
Google Wave (currently in developer preview) essentially brings together in a single place all channels for communication or collaboration a user may need such as Email, IM, Blogging, Microblogging and others. So what you may ask? Aren’t there a lot of unified communication applications (ie Skype)/messaging aggregators (ie Digsby, Pidgin)/content management systems (ie Sharepoint) that do the same thing?
Well not quite. Google Wave (from my understanding) does it in a slightly different, and ultimately more interesting and clever way: they treat each type of communication (be it text, posts, images, videeo, URLs, etc.) as discrete objects, which can be be presented, manipulated, aggregated, and distributed in countless ways and in real-time. They have come up with their own protocol to allow for easier federation and aggregation, and possibly faster transmission, unencumbered by the “legacy” limitations of other communication protocols (such as email) or proprietary limitations of other protocols (such as IM and Skype). They allow “hooks” into that data so that third party developers can easily extend it (ie on-the-fly spell checking, translation) or integrate it with other applications (ie posting on blogs such as Blogger, posting in microblogs such as Twitter, presenting on social networks or portals such as Facebook or Orkut), and other forms of data (ie video and photos). They really thought out the user experience, and really push the boundaries of what can be done today by programming using the web (they use HTML 5 and use the Google Web Toolkit as their presentation framework).
The best thing about Google Wave? Its completely open (as in open standards and open source) so that there will be no encumbrance to (Google hopes) its wide spread adoption. You can deploy it on-premise (behind the corporate firewall) or use it in the cloud (on Google’s own servers) and federate the servers so that servers can still inter-operate or communicate. In that way it is similar to email.
Its difficult to describe just what Google Wave is all about. Check out this video demonstration so you can see and learn more about it for yourself: