Google Wave is huge. I am not even going to try to assess it dispassionately. As I explained in my last post, the same epiphany hit me just a few weeks ago, so I have already drunk the Kool-Aid. Basically: email is the original killer app of the Internet. We live in email, but email sucks. Wave fixes a lot of the suckage. I think it could become a platform for a whole new “wave” of applications. See for yourself. But Wave raises some big questions:
- How does Wave interop with email, and what is the plan for spam? It would be a tragedy if Google were to reinvent email without canning spam. This big issue was not mentioned in the demo, perhaps because it conflicts with making it easy to adopt Wave. It would ease adoption if you could have your incoming email pop up as incoming waves. Any replies in the wave could be reflected back as email replies, emulating the standard quoting conventions. But this means you open up the floodgates to spam. Wave could stop spam if it required some form of authentication in its email gateway, but that might hinder its adoption.
- How does Wave interop with forums and feeds? They demoed embedding waves in a blog, and the same would be useful in a forum. But why not completely subsume blogs and forums and feeds with Wave? One could publish a wave folder as a feed. And subscribe to feeds as persistent wave searches or virtual folders.
- What is the offline story? As presented, waves exist only when you are online. I don’t think Google Gears will help. What you want is a local wave server running in your PC (replicated to the cloud for data preservation). It could have been a Java applet instead of GWT. This may be a cultural thing: Google does web apps.
- Does Wave offer a niche for Subtext/Coherence to flourish? Wave is at root a platform for transporting and replicating changes within XML documents. Coherence is at root about declaratively forming tree structures like XML and reacting to their changes. Would it be useful to have a domain specific language for defining robots that can generate waves and script their behavior? Stay tuned…