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A New Wave?

Last night I sat down for the first time and watch Google’s “preview video” for Google Wave and I’m very excited.

I don’t know about you but I have NEVER thought email was very good.  For credentials, I’ve been using emails since before they were emails, every day of my life – by the hundred (it’s not unusual for me to process over a hundred non-spam emails a day) so I’m no stranger to the concept. I use Exchange mail for work – and privately having tried just about every email system on the planet I’ve settled on Google mail.  I also have several blogs, a Twitter feed and presenses on Facebook, LinkedIn and a thousand other social and business networks. I maintain all of my images on Flickr and Google Web album – and videos on blip.tv and Youtube.

Wave goodbye to email?
So why would I say that I believe the age of the email could be coming to an end thanks to Google Wave?  Well, for several reasons – firstly let me explain what I think is wrong with email – then I’ll go on to briefly describe Google Wave and what I think is right with it.

Email is a MESS. You have various formats even to this day, so anything but the most plain and boring email is likely to upset someone using Linux. Embedded images sometimes work (showing inline) and sometimes show as attachments. Any lengthy conversation is a pain in the bum to re-assemble – especially if some clever Charlie changes the title… and if you add someone into the conversation you have to go through all your old emails on the subject and forward them on – it just does NOT work well at all apart from the simplest SEND/REPLY scenario.

But of course, email was invented before the Internet really took off – long before in fact. I was one of the old school using Fidonet and running a Midnight line LONG before the public knew about email. Meanwhile we’ve all become used to the likes of Skype, various Messengers, social networks and other ways of interacting with people.  Email has severe legacy issues in trying to maintain compatibility and… well, it’s not ideal.

And then along comes Google Wave (which at the time of writing is not out yet) – like a breath of fresh air.

I could point you to their video but the tech-types doing the video might put you off – indeed even this email is possibly long enough to put you off – but if you’re still here let me dive in and try to explain.

Google WaveImagine starting off an email – perhaps an invitation to a party, by opening a NEW email, sending to one of your pals and CC’ing a bunch of others. A couple of days later the replies start to pour in. You can’t simply group them together to see who’s coming because some clever Charlies have changed the subject line! Some simply reply, some send additional emails with questions about what booze to bring. Before long you have lots and lots of emails to contend with – oh and you had to keep the email plain because Fred down the road is using an old email client that doesn’t like formatting.

Now imagine a better way, in Google Wave, simply open a new CONVERSATION and drag in various contacts from your address book.  Your contacts who are also using Google Wave (there is a hurdle there but bear with me) see a new conversation has opened from you. They open the conversation and put in their reply… they may at a later date add comments.

As soon as someone puts in a reply, on your computer the conversation turns BOLD indicating there is something new in there – open up and you see the replies – all in ONE place. At any time you can drop in an image or video… again, changes make the conversation come up in bold for everyone involved. They can choose to respond every time this happens – or just occasionally look in. People can reply anywhere on the message, not just at the end.  Think of it as a permanent Messenger thread organised by subject.. As soon as you start editing, others will see the WAVE turn bold and if you want could interact there and then. This makes Google Wave potentially MUCH faster and more convenient than email.

If you’re not seeing this, some images might help – I grasped it almost immediately and I simply can’t WAIT. The issue of course is that we all have to buy into this to make it work – and there are only a couple of companies with enough clout to make us do this – one is Microsoft – the other is Google. I think it might just succeed.

Here’s a screenshot – click on the image to see the full screen – if this doesn’t sell the idea to you – I can’t help :-)  And this is just the preview – what else will they think of by the time it is introduced.

Google Wave

Here’s a Google Wave form to fill in if you want to be kept up to date – I certainly do. Oh and the plan is to make it open-source – and Google are openly saying you could put the code on your own servers to make a “private” wave system!

If you want to see this in operation INCLUDING AT THE END AS-YOU-TYPE language translation…. here’s the video. It’s a little cheesy but if you can stomach it, their explanations are far more interesting than mine! See the stuff near the end – amazing.

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