Google Wave has taken the world by storm and been the talk of innovation since it was demonstrated months ago. Invites going out like concert tickets and for better or worse, early returns are coming in. This morning on the train ride into the city I read Scoble pronouncement that Wave is over-hyped. There is fantastic follow-up conversation that I recommend in the comments discussing it even further. Louis Gray also discusses.
So is Google Wave the New New Thing? Who knows? Scoble, Gray and many others probably have fair points. I have no idea if it is going to be successful. In fact, I haven’t even used it yet since I wasn’t opened to the system (not one of the worthy 100k, thanks Google!). I’d like to discuss a bigger question.
Why so negative? (Said another way, a very provocative question is “Why be so quick to judgment?”) Who knows what the future holds? In the beginning, Twitter showed no purpose to me. I have a personal post to prove it. I made the mistake to be very quick to judge the service at the time and quite honestly give the thing time to ferment. I later remedied my incorrect early impression. I think people confuse how they look at the service now as opposed to the service we were all looking at it when it first came out. And that quick rush to judgment has bigger negative consequences.
When Friendfeed switched to a real-time interface, I came very close to making the same mistake. It was blistering fast, hard to follow and there was a lot of noise in the channel just like when you follow tons of people in Twitter and just watch the stream. Very valid points BUT to a certain extent, it is the wrong way to look at things. It took a few months, but once I got used to the service, I couldn’t even go back to “refresh mode”, I loved real time. Back in August,I reflected and was honest with myself as to what I thought at one point no longer was valid…for me.
The goal or premise of Google Wave was to re-define what we mean for collaboration and by folding into the framework the concept of real-time, public and private conversations, threaded and nested conversations: really the merging of email and IM/chat which has been the standard collaboration conversation paradigms of the past couple decades.
Some say, impossible, there is too much email lock-in to change the way people communicate in an email like channel. Why? Are we actually saying that we will not advance from the email we know today? That cannot be. With that attitude, we are set collectively to never create anything game-changing and new. Again I reflect, back in the 90′s, a little search company came out and I laughed (negatively) and wondered if these two guys didn’t understand that Yahoo! owned the search market. We know how that story ended. And that is why I don’t say things like “don’t come out with new search engines, you cannot beat Google, they have too much share and power.” Is it daunting? Of course it is. But not impossible. Microsoft, a gorilla, is under threat in the enterprise and the office productivity space. We would never have thought such a thing could occur, many still don’t.
Building good enterprise software (often regarded an oxymoron) is hard and often failed but that doesn’t mean we will not continue to innovate in the space.
I close this post tying it back to Google Wave. Will it be successful? Who knows? What I can say is that it shows an enormous amount of vision, positive vision about how it can change the collaboration and real time communication world. It is so early in the evolution, let’s see where we go, viable use cases, incremental improvement, additional feedback loops incorporated into the product. And finally, let’s not lose sight on what huge factor: the open development community will harness some real power and value in this ecosystem. Just like what happened with Twitter. Twitter evolved from a simple user interface with a white box to type “what are you doing”. It would be no where near as pervasive today with the significant developments around its API and the community developing apps with vision on how to leverage a one-to-many communications framework.
Let’s give this some time. Let’s give it a chance. That is what makes innovation so great. Building and investing in things that do not seem possible, initial ventures that are seemingly dumb and improving the status quo.
Guess I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning.
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