Google Wave recently entered the spotlight after releasing lots of new invites to eagerly awaiting users. I received an invite a while back and have been using Wave for some time now and I see the great potential and where it is headed. It basically is a way for realtime collaboration between people, making discussion easy to follow and a central point for all files and other information.
The greatness of Wave is the use of open standards which means that anyone can set up a Wave server. Right now, there is just the @googlewave.com domain where your Wave user resides, but imagine when this becomes mainstream, where Waves can be sent to and from any “email” address – completely decentralized. The fundamentals can be seen today with the Jabber protocol, which uses the same type of communication and is working really well. The adoption rate of Jabber is another thing though.
The good thing with an approach like this is that it almost works like email does today, only better. Conversations are hosted by the Wave initiator and everyone sees the same information. Think of it as Email 2.0, or to put in Google’s words:
“Email, if it had been invented today.”
The benefits are that Wave is conceptually very similar to how email works today. The only real difference is that the entire conversation is hosted on the server side, and there is just one conversation – meaning that everyone sees exactly the same thing all the time. The way things currently work is that emails are sent, replied to, forwarded and bounced independently, which can make it very hard if not impossible to follow a conversation.
Since it will probably be a while before Wave will becomes mainstream, if it ever will, there are of course alternatives available right now. A very popular way of doing something similar is using WordPress with the P2 theme developed by Automattic themselves. This enables anyone to set up a sort of Wave server, but it is more focused on smaller groups, like companies or projects within them.
It almost looks like the front page of Twitter, where you have an input box at the top and messages from people under it. One thing P2 does that Twitter does not do however, is threaded conversations! It is an invaluable features and adds depth to conversations and makes the site more alive.
nb, This post was written long ago, it just got stuck in the draft folder.