I have watched you on the shore
Standing by the ocean's roar
Do you love me, do you surfer girl
~Beach Boys, Surfer Girl
Google Wave invitations went out last week to 100,000 lucky people and I didn't get one. I'm stuck on the shore line while the fortunate few are riding the first Google Wave. I don't mind telling you, I really want to get my hands on an invitation. I know what you're thinking if you're a regular reader: 'Aren't you the guy who wrote A Curmudgeonly Look at Google Wave when it was first announced?' Well ya, I was and that post (which is my second most popular ever with over 50,000 views) represents a snap shot of what I felt at the time, but I'm also a technology journalist and I'm innately curious, and I want to try this dammit.
What's This All About?
If for some reason, you're not familiar with Google Wave, you can learn more in this 8 minute Google video. It is an elegant looking email/communications/social/collaboration platform. You have the ability to share email and communication in a single interface, so instead of sending multiple emails or messages to multiple people, you point them to a single wave, which acts as a central communication hub where you can share text, documents, pictures and video (which you can edit and share in real time). Using the platform, you can build widgets. Some early ones allow you to run your Twitter stream (or a Twitter search) directly in your Wave. I'm sure over time we will see companies develop widgets that communicate directly with internal enterprise applications.
You can drag and drop files and addresses making it very user friendly, but what's really exciting about this whole phenomenon to me is that you can embed Waves into blogs and web sites, so that you forgo the need for a Wave client if you don't want one. On the flip side, say you embed a Wave in a blog post, you can then watch the comments section in real time in the Wave client. Having this choice to use the client, embed it in a web site or use both is very powerful indeed.
This ability to use Wave as a single container on your web site or blog means that you can communicate and socialize in a single tool. While FriendFeed (which recently purchased by Facebook) provides some of this ability for social applications, it hasn't really caught in a big way. Wave has the ability to take the idea of FriendFeed to an entirely new level because you can incorporate your entire social and communications infrastructure inside a single platform without a lot of heavy lifting.
If Google can get it working right, it could be huge because it will act as a single social and communications center regardless of the application. Think about this for a second. You could have a single hub where you could see your email, instant messaging, text messages, Twitter stream, Facebook traffic; in short, everything in one place. Then think about the fact that you don't even require a client to get this done, that you can embed it in a web site or blog fairly easily.
Not Everyone's Excited
Before you get carried away with my enthusiasm, remember that post that I wrote the week Google first announced Wave. There are potential issues here and I'm not the only to consider them. Technology luminary Robert Scoble calls it "overhyped" and "noisy" in a recent blog post. Meanwhile Anil Dash likened it to the Segway (the much hyped self-propelled scooter device) on Twitter where he wrote:
I have huge respect for the Google Wave team, but it seems as more people try it, they agree that it's like a Segway for email.
I'm not sure these two esteemed gentlemen don't have agendas of their own here, but the fact is Google Wave is supremely interesting technology and as a person who follows and writes about it, it's something I want to try and decide for myself. For now, I'm forced to sit on the sidelines and watch while others debate its merits. And I find that very frustrating, Earthling.