Google Wave is coming along to 100,000 people at some point today. First targeted will be developers and those people who have signed up on wave.google.com as being interested in providing feedback. The other group who will get invites will be selected users of Google Apps.
I think Google Wave will be important for several reasons:
1. Email is broken
I think I speak for everyone here when I say that email is well and truly spanked. When email was first conceived, it was done as an electronic version of ordinary mail, and used the same sorts of constructs. I create a mail, I then send it to someone with an address attached, it then gets delivered to the person corresponding to that address. Roughly that is it.
Now, email was devised and first used in a setting that was nothing like we have now. The first users were the military and then later academics. Each stamped their own brand of requirements on email. Academics lived and operated in a rarified world where people cooperated with each other, at least where computing was concerned, and NOBODY would have dreamed of sending email to someone just for profit or to annoy them. Email was special, and there were special rules of etiquette that you followed if you used it.
Roll forward 30 years or so and it is a different story. Email just wasnt designed to be used as THE communication mechanism for millions of people. For one thing, you can send millions of emails to people you dont know in a matter of minutes, with no comeback, no introduction, and often without being traced. My inbox is testament to this.
2. People Want to Co-operate
The time is right for an improved way of communication between individuals and groups. Twitter is a good example of something that is quite simple on the exterior but is so very popular because it gives people another channel to communicate. Instant Messenger (IM) is also important, but is often difficult to use in a really wide group because although there are standards for it, most of the systems dont cooperate nicely. It is easy to get stuck.
Google Wave will give us the opportunity to communicate with individuals and groups in a system that will be a standard, will have a protocol, and yet will give you the control over who gets to message with you. It cuts down considerably the chances of spam. Its wiki like features will be loose enough so that the message part is flexible. But you will have much more control over who you interact with than you presently have with email. It will be more like a cross between email and Instant Messenger clients.
The growth of tools such as SharePoint show that people want to share and cooperate on projects. SharePoint's power is it's flexibility and ability to plug in all kinds of information sources and then have users manipulate that information easily.
3. Real Time Web needs a Real Time Communicator
Email is fine if you don't mind waiting a few minutes or hours for a reply to something. But business these days just isn't that patient. There is a recession on, and people are scrabbling for every penny of business, and if you are fast and communicative then you will be more likely to succeed than those who don't. Email isn't going to cut it. Twitter and Friendfeed and Facebook are fast enough and almost real-time enough to make this happen. IM isn't going to cut it. Google Wave might be the answer.
We will sere possibly today and certainly over the next few weeks and months if Wave is going to be the next email. Whatever happens it will be a good experiment and certainly one that will more than likely spawn further advances in communications. Interesting days ahead.