A few weeks ago twitter and some blogs were all a’ gushing about the demo of Google Wave like it was the new Shimmer, maybe even more than a dessert and a floor wax. I tweeted some snark about the hype — a bit foolishly since I had not seen the demo. I failed to heed my own warnings of judging a technology from the outside (well, I cannot help but be from outside, since all I have to go on is an 80 minute demo).

Until today on the flight to Hawaii, when I watched the whole demo on my iPhone. I’m surprised the plane held steady with the number of times my jaw dropped or I yelled, “wow”.

So I cannot do much except say wow– but–but–but if the wave does break (in the positive surfer sense), this could be a huge game changer.

Not only does it change email and communication as Rasmussen proposes in the beginning (“what if we were to invent email today?”) — it could be the end of the static web as we know it. Now of course, with web 2.0 we think it is really not static, but the web on wave looks a whole lot different than what we have now- this very blog post becomes a conversation that is always being updated, edited.

There is also this sense of information, communication becoming free of the technology boxes we have them now- so the same content can be modified, edited, discussed via a browser, phone, blog, wave client, some remote programmed bot..

It could change the sense of what we think of as documents, as they become distributed yet connected– the piece about people working simultaneously yet in a chained publish model (pieces of one wave are updated causing instant propagate changes where-ever that web is used.

The notion of playing back a wave goes way being watching a video of MediaWiki updates— did you catch the small piece about just playing back a single person’s contributions? Doesn’t this have some compelling interest for assessment, to be able to track a single student’s contributions to a larger group project?

Is Google Wave the manifestation of those long ago (for me dead) dreams of reusable learning objects– but with much more?

Another piece that just jazzed me was both presenters manipulating and marking up a Google Map together. This has been one missing piece of Google Maps / Earth- the social layer that we see in virtual worlds. With wave, we can be co-exploring (or heck field trips) in maps, maybe Earth?

Things maybe to be added or I missed include:

  • I saw them adding users o a Wave one at a time. I’d like to see an ability to define groups, and groups made o groups, so you could mass add people together. Or perhaps you tag contacts, and assemble them that way.
  • It wasn’t clear what kinds of permission layers you can add- it looks like everything is editable. If that is the case (and I am not sure I mind), then– everything becomes a Wiki (and conversely, as someone else suggested, wikis as we know them go the way of the doodoo bird). What if a wave is “complete” can it be frozen as a final product? What if I want to let Jane and Nancy edit, but only let Harvey view a wave (or maybe harvey can only comment, but not edit).
  • Waving seemed fine for 2, 3, 5 people– what happens when 100s are in one? 1000s?

So I have sipped the wavy cool-aid, and it is now factoring into plans for a major new NMC collaboration site I will be charged with designing this year.

While this is all exciting for the technogeek in me, the bigger question is — is it too much a cognitive leap for people to jump form their inbox? Is it too complex for people to grok? What will be the big feaure, app that will make people drop the fears to try hopping on a surf board and get on a real wave?

I am paddling out there to see….

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Wave does seem too good to be true… doesn’t it?

    Not sure about your first and third question, but for the second one I have some thoughts:
    I think the way they do it is that each piece of the wave can have its own permissions. They only showed changing the read permission in the demo, but I’m sure they will have write permission editing as well.

    In order to make a “final product” you can export the wave into other formats… including export as a wave.

    I can’t remember any groups… but then again it looks like a very easy layer to add so even if they don’t do it… we could do it.

  2. Hey Alan, thanks for the ‘wave’. I too was really excited about it when the Twitterverse saw it rolling in. It’s like waiting for the seventh wave at the beach – the big one. I think that Google Wave will be the next big one to watch for. I am really looking forward to surfing.

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