Sunday, June 7, 2009

Google Wave

What is Google Wave? It is a new communication service that Google unveiled at Google IO this week. It is a product, platform and protocol for communication and collaboration designed for today’s world. Is that too much of technical jargon…let’s make it simple…and take it in chewable bite size…

It is like reinventing email that was designed 40 years ago i.e. many years before internet, wiki, blogs, twitter, forums, discussion boards etc existed. The world has evolved, but we are still hooked to “Store-and-forward” architecture of email systems which mimics snail-mail. In spite of the technological advances, we are living in highly segmented world, with information living on islands – emails, blogs, photo, blogs, micro blogs like twitter, web collaboration, net meetings, IM and so on.

In Google Wave you create a wave (can be an email or IM conversation or a document for collaboration or to publish on a blog or just to play a game) and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. You can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. Google Wave an HTML 5 app, built using Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other desktop functions like drag-and-drop. It has concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. This means Google Wave integrates email, IM and collaborative document creation into a single experience. The most important feature is that you can also use “playback” to rewind the wave to see how it evolved. My elder son was very excited to see that. He said “If I am playing chess with my friends using Wave, I will be able to rewind and replay it to see every move. WoHoooooo..”

Google Wave can also be considered as a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves. The Google Wave protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone’s Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. To encourage adoption of the protocol, we intend to open source the code behind Google Wave.

Vic Gundotra of Microsoft fame is now leading this effort as VP engineering at Google. Lars and Jens Rasmussen (brothers) who came to Google with acquisition of “2 Tech” in 2004, have been driving this effort at Google for more than 18 months. They also have credible history and star reputation at Google as creators of Google Maps.

The underlying assumption is that a large scale disruptive innovation can dislodge the existing leaders and give an opportunity to other to take leading positions. Hence an attempt to create an online world where people can seamlessly communicate and collaborate across various information exchange scenarios including email, IM, blog, wiki and multi-lingual (including translation) . With this bold move, Google is trying to overcome the challenges of integration by hosting the conversation object on the server, allowing multiple channels of interactions and breaking many barriers in the process. The service seems to combine Gmail and Google Docs into an interesting free-form workspace that could be used to write documents collaboratively, plan events, play games or discuss recent news. Google has announced this as an open source project and is publishing all the standards at The ripples of this Google wave have potential of impacting the technology world for decades to come.

Some helpful links:
Main Site:
Federation Protocol:
Web Toolkit:

No comments: