Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Google Wave: The Next [Electronic] Generation?

You have to wonder if we will ever stop outdoing ourselves.

In Google's case, I can safely say, not any time soon. It's latest? Google Wave--promoted as the new online tool for real time communication and collaboration (I'm still trying to figure out what that means)--is the recent buzz among digital aficionado. Google describes it as "a wave [that] can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more."

Normally, I wouldn't mind having an electronic best friend that has an automated, boisterous spell-check/grammar (God knows I need it), a best friend that acts as a translator in 40 languages (since I only speak three) or one that can also inform me about what is current in the world. It's like having your own electronic super hero that saves the world one communication barrier at a time, right? It does sound very appealing. However, I can't help but wonder: What problems does Google Wave pose?

In their defense, the creators, themselves, raise a fair question: Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication — email versus chat, or conversations versus documents? In an effort to improve communication, Google Wave introduces what may be a revolutionary idea for businesses, companies, organizations, etc. Hm... this sounds oddly familiar to what the Nextel phone did for businesses.  Perhaps Google Wave should come with a disclaimer: If not used in moderation, this product may become a nuisance. 

On the other hand, it promises to ease communication for contacts across the world. However, if none of these (work or distance) apply to you, it may prove to be either (1) too complex or (2) more of a hassle than your regular email and IM. Trust me. I want to like the gadget, but am simultaneously skeptical. 

That said, if this sounds like your kind of toy, sign up to be one of the 100,000 that gets invited by Google to play with Google Wave before it's released to the public.

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