Google Wave Team celebrates – by niallkennedy via Flickr
Originally published in MediaPost's Social Media Insider
In the future,
my dad will be a blogger. He'll create wikis. He'll have his work
translated into languages spoken across Europe, Asia, and South
America. He'll accomplish it effortlessly with Google Wave. I watched the 80-minute developer preview of Wave, and it's going to make nearly everyone a social media creator.
Seth Godin made the point that "the real next Google" is Google, thanks to what it's doing with Wave. He contrasted that with Microsoft Bing, a search engine with a few features that Google can easily copy.
One of the problems with Bing is that it's anti-social. That's a dangerous proposition for a new digital brand. Microsoft says in its press release,
"The explosive growth of online content has continued unabated, and
Bing was developed as a tool to help people more easily navigate
through the information overload." But that "explosive growth" is
largely due to the proliferation of social media, while the tool is
still largely standard search functionality.
further notes that Bing, the "Decision Engine," is "providing customers
with a first step in moving beyond search to help make faster, more
informed decisions." First of all, I've spent some time with Bing, and
while it offers many new ways to refine searches, it doesn't move
beyond search in the slightest. On another note, one obvious way to
help consumers make informed decisions would be to build in elements
that tap their social networks and user-generated content. One
start-up, Hunch, aims to do
exactly that, by combining user contributions and personalization to
help people make smarter decisions. Whether or not Hunch succeeds, it's
a real step beyond search.
Bing is anti-social to the point that it lets you watch Hulu videos within the search results (it feels more like a search portal than a decision engine), but it doesn't let you share the clips. Contrast this with Google Wave, which is all social.
the simplest way to understand it: Wave makes everything social. It
incorporates some elements of other social applications — Gmail,
Google Talk, Blogger, collaborative functions of Google Docs — and
blends them together to create live and time-shifted social
The ultimate power of Wave won't be known for
a while. Google is opening up the service for developers to build on,
so much of the functionality will develop over time, making it
comparable to Twitter. Still, there are some general principles of Wave
that should hold true and improve. Here are a dozen highlights:
- Everything created in this new service is a Wave.
A Wave can be private, much like an email string or an instant message
conversation, or it can be public, like a blog entry or wiki.
Waves can be edited in real time, so that everyone who can access the
Wave can see the updates appear character by character.
Any kind of portable content (including some forms that may not have
been easily portable previously) can be incorporated into Waves,
including photos, videos, and maps.
- All such forms of
content can benefit from Waves' collaborative capabilities, such as
having multiple people upload photos to a communal album and
collectively provide captions.
- Changes to Waves can be played back so it's easy to see the evolution of a Wave over time.
- Games become social, and even competitive.
- Mobile integration is built in, so Waves can be edited from anywhere.
Waves can instantly translate among dozens of languages on the fly, so
that collaborators who natively speak Chinese and Hebrew, for example,
can effortlessly communicate with each other.
Contextual spell-checking happens instantly, with the example shown of
"Icland is an icland" turning into "Iceland is an island." This feature
isn't that social, but it makes contributors look more intelligent when
they share the Waves.
- Comments turn into
conversations. Many blog tools do this already, but this applies to
every form of commenting, from those made during document edits to
comments on photos.
- Waves can integrate with other social services such as Twitter and Orkut, plus many more to come.
all of this might make sense to someone like my dad, but I couldn't
have explained Gmail to him either in terms of how it groups together
email conversations and uses labels instead of folders. I'm pretty
confident, however, that once he starts using Wave, he'll wind up
creating photo blogs while having seamless conversations with relatives
in France, Israel, and Brazil.
Wave will redefine the
"lean-forward" experience of the Web. When you need a break and want to
lean back, though, you can watch those Hulu videos on Bing.