Posts Tagged‘communication’

PowerPoint Doesn’t Need to Die, Bad Communicators Do.

Ah PowerPoint, the thing that everyone seems to loathe when they walk into a meeting yet still, when it comes time for them to present something, it’s the first tool they look to for getting their idea across. Indeed in my professional career I’ve spent many hours standing in front of a projection screen, the wall behind me illuminated by slide after slide of information I was hoping to convey to my audience, jabbering on about what the words behind me meant. It seems that every year there’s someone calling for the death of the defacto presentation tool with them lamenting its use in many well publicised scandals and failures. However like the poor workman who blames his tools PowerPoint is not responsible for much of the ills aimed at it. That, unfortunately, lies with the people who use it.

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PowerPoint, like every Microsoft Office product, when put in the hands of the masses ends up being used in ways that it never should have been. This does not necessarily mean the tool is bad, indeed I’d like to see a valid argument for the death of say Word given the grave misuses it has been put to, more that it was likely not the most appropriate medium for the message it was trying to convey or the audience it was presented to. When used in its most appropriate setting, which I contend is as a sort of public prompt card for both the speaker and the audience, PowerPoint works exceptionally well for conveying ideas and concepts. What it’s not great at doing is presenting complex data in a readily digestible format.

But then again there are very few tools that can.

You see many of the grave misgivings that have been attributed to PowerPoint are the result of its users attempting to cram an inordinate amount of information into a single panel, hoping that it somehow all makes its way across to the audience. PowerPoint, on its own, simply does not have the capability to distill information down in that matter and as such relies on the user’s ability to do that. If the user then lacks the ability to do that both coherent and accurately then the result will, obviously, not be usable. There’s no real easy solution to this as creating infographics that convey real information in a digestible format is a world unto itself but blaming the tool for the ills of its users, and thus calling for the banning of its use, seems awfully shortsighted.

Indeed if it was not for PowerPoint then it would be another one of the Microsoft Office suite that would be met with the same derision as they all have the capability to display information in some capacity, just not in the format that most presentations follow. Every time people have lamented PowerPoint to me I’ve asked them to suggest an alternative tool that solves the issues they speak of and every time I have not recieved a satisfactory answer. The fact of the matter is that, as a presentation tool, PowerPoint is one of the top in its class and that’s why so many turn to it. The fact that it’s found at the center of a lot of well publicised problems isn’t because of its problematic use, just that it’s the most popular tool to use.

What really needs to improve is the way in which take intricate and complex data and distill that down to its essence for imparting it on others. This is an incredibly wide and diverse problem space, one that entire companies have founded their business models on. It is not something that we pin on a simple presentation tool, it is a fundamental shift away from thinking that complex ideas can be summed up in a handful words and a couple pretty pictures. Should we want to impart knowledge upon someone else then it is up to us to take them on that journey, crafting an experience that leaves them with enough information for them to be able to impart that idea on someone else. If you’re not capable of doing nor PowerPoint nor any other piece of software will help you.

Letting the Tool Misuse You.

Technological innovations, you know those things that are supposed to make our lives easier, usually end up becoming the bane of our existence not too long after they’ve lost their novelty. I can’t tell you how many times people have said that they’ve lost control of their email inbox or how they’re constantly distracted by people trying to contact them over the phone, damning the technology for allowing people to interrupt whatever the heck it was they were doing. What amuses me though is I use many of the same technologies that they do yet I don’t feel the same level of pressure that they do, leading me to wonder what the heck they’re complaining about.

Now I’m not saying that email, IM, Twitter et. al. are not distracting, indeed our techno-centric culture is increasingly skewed towards being a distracted one by a veritable tsunami communications tools. I myself struggled with Twitter not too long ago when I attempted to use it the “proper” way over a weekend, seeing my productivity hit the floor as I struggled to strike a balance between my level of engagement and the amount of work I got done. However I soon realised that using said service in the proper way meant that I just ended up as distracted as everyone else, with almost 0 benefit to me other than the small bit of self satisfaction that I was totally doing this social media thing right for a change.

In essence I feel that the reason people get so distracted by these tools is that they feel obligated to respond to them immediately, rather than at a time which suits them best. Thus the tool which is meant to help your productivity becomes a burden, interrupting you at the worst possible time and breaking you out of the flow of the work you were in. If you find yourself in this position you need to set up strict rules for interacting with that particular technology that suit you rather than what suits everyone else. How you go about this is left as an exercise for the reader, but the most effective tool (I’ve found, at least) is to only check your email/Twitter/whatever at certain times during the day and ignoring it at all other times.

The retort I usually get for advocating this kind of stance is “What if something important happens in the interim?”. Thinking really hard about it I can’t think of anything really important that’s come to me via the medium of email, IM, Twitter that didn’t first reach me through some more direct means (like my phone). If you’re relying on these distinctly one way, no way to verify if the person has actually received your message platforms then the message you’re sending can’t really be all that important and can wait a few hours before being responded to. If it can’t then use some more direct means of communicating otherwise you’re just forcing people into the same technological hell that you yourself feel trapped in, continuing the vicious cycle that just doesn’t need to exist.

However sometimes people are just looking for a scapegoat for their situation and it’s far easier to blame a faceless technology than it is to look internally and work out why they’re so distracted. I can kind of sort of understand people getting caught up with communications clients, especially when it’s part of your job, but when you think something like RSS is too distracting (you know, where you choose to subscribe to a site because you’re interested in it) then the problem isn’t the technology it’s your lack of ability to recognize that you’re wasting time. I get literally hundreds of items in my RSS reader every day but do I read them all? Heck no, at most I’ll skim the titles and if I recognize a story I’ve already read then I won’t go back and read it again.

Just seems like common sense to me.

It’s also not helped by the fact that many of us now carry our distractions with us. My phone has all the distraction capability of a modern PC and if it weren’t for my strict rules about only checking things at certain times I’m sure I’d be in the same distraction hell that everyone else is. Of course even though the platform may be different the same rules apply, it’s the feeling of obligation that drives us to distraction when realistically the obligation doesn’t exist, and we’re just slotting into a social norm that ends up wrecking havoc.

Thus all I’m advocating is taking back control of the technology rather than letting it control us. All of these distractions are tools to be used to our advantage and the second they stop being helpful we need to step back and question our use of them to see if we should change the way we use them. Otherwise we just end up being misused by the tools we wish to use and end up blaming them for the problems we in fact caused ourselves.

 

 

 

Goodbye Spirit, We’ll See You Soon.

Bar the shuttle there’s only been one mission in recent memory that has managed to capture the attention and imagination of nearly the entire world. That mission is the Mars Exploration Rovers, a pair of plucky little explorers that touched down on Mars almost 7 years ago today beginning a truly epic journey that lasted well past their expected lifetime. They also hold the crown of being conceived, built, launched and spending the better part of a decade on one of our closest neighbours in the universe in the time that it has taken Duke Nukem Forever to be developed. Their impact on the world and our understanding of the universe cannot be understated and it is with a sadden heart that I bring you this news today.

Spirit, formally known as MER-A, has ceased all communications with earth for too long and we will no longer be attempting to contact it.

Even though they were, for all intents and purposes, identical twins Spirit always had the hardest time on our red sister. For the first couple years they were both chugging along quite well but in mid March 2006 Spirit’s front right wheel locked up and failed to respond. This meant that for most of its life Spirit was driving around backwards, dragging the dead wheel behind it. It was both a blessing and a curse to the little rover as the dragging meant it could image the crevices it was leaving behind, providing some insight that we weren’t expecting. There was a brief moment of excitement when the wheel began to respond again, but it soon stopped responding shortly after. The rear right wheel also suffered a similar fate several years later.

Then in 2009 Spirit became stuck in a soft patch of Mars soil. At the time it didn’t seem like a big of a deal, they’d been in similar situations before with both rovers and managed to free them successfully, but this one presented some major challenges. The soil was an insidious creation of mostly iron sulfate which has poor cohesion and is like quick sand to the rover’s wheels. NASA then spent 9 months testing various scenarios on earth in a desperate attempt to free the craft before the harsh martian winter before giving up and declaring Spirit a stationary research station.

With the rover stuck in the soil it was unable to orient its solar panels to a favourable angle in order to generate enough electricity to keep its components warm during Mars’ winter. This meant that once that time came it was likely that the rover’s electronics would be subjected to temperatures far below what it was designed to handle, likely killing it in the process. It’s the same problem that faced the Phoenix Lander and the unfortunate truth is that it didn’t survive the winter. Spirit went dark on March 22, 2010 and all attempts to contact it since then have been met silence. This means that the rover is no longer functioning, frozen in its final resting place.

Spirit may no longer be communicating with us but its mission lives on in its twin, Opportunity, and it’s future incarnation in the Mars Science Laboratory called Curiosity. There’s also the very real possibility that SpaceX will be launching a mission to Mars in the near future and that gives us the very real possibility that us humans could be meeting up with our robotic creations much sooner than we think. So while writing this article brought a tear to my eye I know that Spirit won’t be alone in the Martian soil for long and we’ll be seeing it again very soon.

So long Spirit.

Internet Shopping Has Ruined Me.

I’m not what you’d call a big traveller, the longest trip of my life was done just last year and only lasted 4 weeks, but I’ve still been to more places than both my parents combined. I have the commoditization of air travel to thank for that and it’s the reason why many Australians of my generation spent their early twenties in other countries. Like any traveller I’m always keen to dive right into the culture of the place I’m visiting and always want to bring back a momento that’s distinctly from that country. Since I have a distaste for useless things and a heavy interest in tech my options are usually pretty limited though, especially when I go to places that are supposed to be tech centres.

Most recently I saw myself in Singapore for business and thought this would be a good opportunity to grab some of the gadgets I hadn’t bought yet (I.E. a Motorola Xoom). I knew I could get it online for just under $600 so I figured if I could get it for that or within 10% more it would be worth it so I set out to 2 of the biggest technology malls in search of one. The first one I tried was Sim Lim Square, and whilst the number of IT shops there was astounding I failed to find anyone willing to sell me the tablet for less than SG$900 (~AUD$684). It was also a bit of a challenge to find one in the first place since most places didn’t stock it, favoring instead the new Acer Iconia. My frolic through the Funan DigitalLife Mall prove to be equally as irritating, so I ended up leaving there empty handed.

I had similar frustrations looking for some distinctly Singaporean gifts to bring back from my travels. This could be due to the heavy amount of westernization that Singapore has undergone but even trolling through local markets had me finding the same items I could either get online or back in Australia. It’s not just limited to Singapore either, any business running in a modern country is more than likely going to have some kind of web presence which will allow you to get their products without having to enter the country. Thus the actual value of travelling to a location to get things that you can only get there is somewhat diminished, especially if you’re someone with particular tastes like me.

My wife and I had the same trouble when travelling through the USA. We struggled to find anything that they couldn’t get elsewhere and indeed many of the gifts we ended up bringing back could have easily been acquired with 10 minutes on the Internet and a credit card. Sure people are still appreciative of things that have made the journey from faraway lands (especially if you carry them yourselves) but it just seems unnecessary when you could have the package make that same journey without taking up space in your suitcase.

Perhaps its just a result of my particular tastes and chosen travel destinations but the more I travel the more I get the feeling that the world is becoming far more homogenous thanks to the communication revolution of the Internet. It’s also just good business on the part of the multi-nationals who can afford to have a presence anywhere they choose which explains why I continue to see the same products and brands nearly everywhere I go.

Maybe I’m just pointlessly ranting about the diminishing value of travel or perhaps I’m getting crotchety in my old age, not wanting to travel because I like what I’ve got back at home. Both are valid points and looking over this post it does seem kind of a silly point to make. Still though I think there’s something in the idea that the world is becoming more homogenous thanks to the better flow of information and that one of the flow on effects is that the idea of bringing gifts back from overseas is now a quaint notion that could soon be seen as an outdated custom.

Or maybe I’m just shit at finding good places to shop, that’d work too 😉

Using Technology to Control Others.

If there’s one notion that just doesn’t seem to die it’s that email is always a bane to someone’s productivity. Personally after using the Internet daily for the better part of 15 years I’ve gotten the whole email thing down pretty good and I don’t personally find it a distraction. Still no matter how many people I talk to they still seem to struggle with their inbox every day with people inundating them request after request or including them in a discussion that they just have to respond to. This is just one of the great many examples of people using technology to control someone else’s behaviour and it surprises me how many people still fall for it.

In the most traditional sense email was to be the electronic replacement for good old fashioned letters. In that sense they do carry a sense of urgency about them as when someone takes the time to write to you about something you can be sure that they want a response. However the low barrier to entry for writing an email as opposed to a real letter opened the floodgates for those who would not usually take the time to write and thus proceed to unleash their fury on unsuspecting victims. For myself I’ve noticed in a work place many people will often forego face to face contact with someone who’s mere meters away by using email instead, turning a 5 minute conversation into a 2 hour email ordeal that still doesn’t satisfy either party. This could also be due to my career being almost wholly contained within the public service, but I’ve seen similar behaviour at large private entities.

I think the problem many people have with electronic mediums is the urgency that they associate with it. When you get a real, physical letter from someone or some corporation there’s a real sense of “I have to do something about this” and that feeling translates into its electronic form. Seeing your inbox with dozens of emails left unread conveys that sense of leaving something important undone as each one of them is a call to your attention, begging for a response. The key is to recognise the low barrier of entry that electronic forms of communication have and to treat them as such. Of course simply ignoring your emails doesn’t solve the problem but establishing rules of engagement for people contacting you through various mediums ensures that you cut the unnecessary communications to a minimum, freeing yourself from their technological grasp.

I experienced this myself just recently when experimenting with “proper” Twitter use. The second I dropped my rules of engagement with the service was the second that I became a slave to it and the people on the other side. Sure this might be considered the norm when using Twitter but frankly the value I derive from the service is rendered moot when diverts my attention away from what I consider to be more valuable exploits. The same should be said for any form of communication you use, if the value you’re deriving or creating from using a communication method is less than the most optimal thing you could be doing in lieu of that, well maybe you should reconsider replying to those 50 emails that came in over lunch.

It’s gotten to the point where even whole companies are being founded on the idea of streamlining communication, like Xobni an email inbox searching tool. Google has also attempted to fix the email problem by developing the priority inbox which is a clever yet completely unnecessary tool. Whilst it does do a good job of showing me the emails I need to see I’d argue the problem is more that the ones it doesn’t promote simply did not need to be written. Thus we have a technological solution to a problem that’s entirely caused by its human users and would be better solved with a switch in mindset.

In the end it comes down to people letting themselves be controlled by something rather than the other way around. People know that if they want me to do something immediately they’ll come see me or phone me. If they want it done whenever I damn well feel like it they’ll send an email and no amount of important flags or all caps titles will change that. In the end it means people actually think about what they want before approaching me, meaning that the time I do actually spend communicating with them is productive and we can both get back to our priorities without too much interruption.

Google Wave: Can’t Say I Didn’t See This Coming.

I still remember sitting down to the hour long Google Wave introduction video almost a year and a half ago. I was stuck at work after hours monitoring a transition process and found the video as something to have in the background whilst my mind wandered off. Towards the end though I had completely forgotten about what I was doing and was transfixed on this new Google tech that could bring about a new world of communication. It also spoke to the developer inside me who had been thinking about information aggregation for a long time and subsequently I blogged about my excitement a day later.

Four months later saw me finally get an invite to the service along with a good number of my techie friends. I was enamoured with itinitially seeing it as a curiosity that defied social conventions and served as a great thought experiment about how we humans communicate. It was also a social focal point for a while, enabling me to reconnect with some friends who I wasn’t able to catch through other communication mediums. Still the interest only lasted about a fortnight before people started to drop off it and a month later it was rare to find anyone else on the service, let alone them being responsive to my waves.

Three months after that post Google released their Twitter competitor Buzz. At the time of its release I commentedon how this would kill any remaining interest in Wave because it would be seen as a competing communication method. Buzz had the integration upper hand as it was provided along side Gmail, something which wave didn’t (and couldn’t) have. I had logged into wave spuriously since then, usually to grant someone an invite or to see if there was anything new on the service. Nothing had changed since my last encounter with the service, it lied there abandoned and forgotten.

Yesterday saw Google acknowledge that user adoption hadn’t been great and that they weren’t going to continue developing Wave as a standalone product:

Google is halting development on Wave, its web app for real-time communication.

“We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product,” Google Senior Vice President of Operations Urs Hölzle said on the official Google Blog Wednesday.

The company cites slow user adoption as the reason for its decision. Google will continue to support Wave through the end of the year, at which point the product will be phased out.

Honestly the slow rate of adoption didn’t really surprise me as Wave was virtually unknown to anyone outside the tech industry. It’s quite reminiscent of many open source endeavours, a solid product with great vision but not entirely meant for widespread adoption. The reason that email, IM and now services like Twitter have taken off is arguably their simplicity and wide appeal. Wave on the other hand had little familiarity with non-tech users and struggled to bring them on board. Additionally it barely managed to garner the press attention required to gain the critical mass of users to make it a viable means of communication. Unfortunately that was the beginning of the end for the Wave product and Google has finally decided to put it out to pasture.

That’s not to say that all the work on Wave is for naught. While it was quite ambitious to think that Wave could replace Google Docs and some of Google’s other web services the augmentations that it provided will eventually make their way into those services. The underlying server technology will more than likely be open sourced, leading to the possibility that some keen developers might make the Wave idea into a viable product some day. There’s also the possibility that some of Wave’s innovations will work their way into Google’s other services as well, providing more features and hopefully more opportunities for real time integration with third party services.

Trying to rethink certain paradigms is always fraught with risk, especially ones as ingrained as the way we communicate on the web. Whilst it was a noble idea to reinvent email as if it was designed today the fact of the matter is that email and the other traditional forms of electronic communication work and replacing them outright is fighting several decades of incumbency. As with all great innovations though we will see Wave’s influence in many of Google’s future products and whilst it’s not the communication revolution I once said it would be we will still be using Wave for years to come, even if we don’t realise it.

The Internet Age: A Communication Method For Every Niche.

Cast your mind back 15 years, what was the most common way to get into contact with someone? Your answer was probably a land line telephone as the Internet was still low in its adoption rates and sending letters was starting to feel a little antiquated. Additionally faxing was beginning to take over as the de facto standard for sending documents around the globe  further cementing the telephone as the goto means for trying to communicate with someone. The alternatives where thin on the ground and realistically if you wanted to send a message to a large, multi-national audience you’d have to shell out some serious coin to get that done. Today however it seems that no matter who you are or who you want to talk to there’s already infrastructure in place to facilitate your desire to communicate and with that comes some interesting problems for those who used to dominate the international communications space.

This blog is a great example of just one of these forms of communication. Realistically if I wanted to write about things on a daily basis to a decent sized audience my options were fairly limited. Usually I’d have to have some kind of journalistic cred in order to get myself a daily column and that would also subject me to being under an editor. I could have wrote everything up, printed out thousands of copies and then hung them all over the place but that would be both time and cost prohibitive. Today I can reach a daily audience of dozens of people all for the cost of an hours work, an Internet connection and a bit of electricity to power my home server. If I was so inclined I could eliminate most of those costs by moving to a hosted solution, but I like tinkering too much to do that 😉

For the most part though I know that blogs don’t suit everyone, especially the kind of style that I’ve adopted for myself. Writing a post a day can seem like a chore to most people and if you’re like me you’re not prone to fits of creative inspiration often leading me on a frustrating hunt for something to write about. Additionally many people were already happy with their more traditional forms of communication and saw no need to start up a blog or similar to communicate to their intended audience.

Many of the new forms of communication are based around making the more traditional forms of mass communication (television, radio, newspapers, etc) much more accessible to the everyman. Primarily we have the Internet to thank for this as its pervasiveness opens up the largest potential audience for any content that you might dare to distribute. The rapid change from traditional media to the current user centric Internet experience has seen many corporations playing a game of catch up to make the most of this new medium with many just being outright hostile to what they perceive as being a threat to their bottom line. I can’t say that I blame them as any good corporations main goal is to maximize its profit for its shareholders but realistically if you’re trying to fight a fundamental change to your business model rather than adapt to it you’re not long for the technological world. There’s already a dozen hungry start ups that would be willing to take your place.

On the flip side though the various means of communication can be a bit of a curse. Although there is always a dominate player in the respective field the success of any new form of communication means there will be multiple players, all with their own distinct set of benefits. Ultimately this leads to a fragmented audience meaning either you attempt to cover off all your bases to hit the largest audience possible (exponentially increasing your work) or just target one potentially segregating off a large audience. In the end though content is still king and if you do good work people will overlook the medium in which its delivered.

What all this means for the everyman is that no matter who you are, what your message is or who your audience is there’s probably already a form of communication that’s perfectly suited to you. Want to start a TV show? Get a YouTube channel. Feel like exposing every little nuance of your life to the Internet? Get a Twitter account. Have aspirations of being a journalist but don’t want to do the training but hope that some technology/gaming/space big shot will see your potential and then pay you to write for them? Get off my territory and start a blog somewhere else boy! 😉 The traditional content gatekeepers no longer apply for those of us lucky to live in the age of the Internet, where those who wish to express themselves and their audience is only separated by a few clicks and bit of bandwidth.

Google Wave: A Revolution Without Conventions.

It was almost 4 months ago when I first blogged about the impending communication revolution that would take its form in Google Wave. Back then it was out of my reach and the late September date I was given at the time for a wider release to the public came and went. I resolved myself to reading up a bit more on the protocol and then leaving it at that, hoping that eventually I would get a chance to have at it. Well no less than two weeks ago a few of my friends were invited and last week I managed to score an invite off one of them myself. Queue an entire Friday afternoon spent chatting, collaborating and breaking Google Wave with 5 of my technically inclined friends. Wave has definitely managed to live up to the hype, but not without some very interesting consequences.

When you open up Wave you’re greeted with a very a familiar Google-ish interface. It’s clean and minimalistic something which is rare in today’s rich content web. It’s really just an updated version of their Gmail interface which will help ease people into the transition from email to Wave. You’re added into a couple of default Waves in order to help you get the feel for how to navigate around and what features are available which won’t tell much to us techies but should help your average user get into the right mind set. After stumbling around for a bit and clicking wildly I caught my friend and co-worker who had had wave for a week or so and got into some real waving, and this is where it got interesting.

By default Wave is set up to transmit your keystrokes in real time to everyone who is part of the wave you’re adding to or editing on. The demonstration of this showed it to be quite snappy however it appears that the speed shown was probably due to the fact that the server was 10 meters away from them. As the wave starts to grow in size the lag starts to become more noticable up until the point where you can type a whole sentence before it appears on screen. This seemed to be alleviated somewhat by using Google Chrome which also added the benefit of being able to drag and drop files directly onto a wave. You can get the same functionality by installing Google Gears but you’ll still be better off installing Chrome (there didn’t seem to be any performance improvement in Firefox when using Gears).

After fooling around for a while trying all the various features and figuring out some system limitations (long character strings in excess of 256 characters without spaces seem to hurt Wave in a very bad way) it dawned on us that there was no social convention for using this new tech. For instance if you’re watching someone type something and you think you know what they’re talking about the reaction is to start typing your response right away. In a conversation this would be equivalent to interrupting them whilst they were talking, which is a bit rude. There’s also the issue of in-line responses, which allow you to reply to a section of a wave. You can do this while they’re typing and whilst it seemed useful at the demonstration, it only seems to sever the flow of conversation mid-stream. All of Wave’s features lack social conventions on their use and as such feel slightly awkward to use (and also make for some fun with Internet memes).

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This isn’t necessairly a bad thing, it just means that the technology really is a paradigm shift in the ways of Internet communication. Email suffered less from this as it was mostly just an electronic representation of a physical process, and thus was easily understood. Wave on the other hand functions like email mashed with IM and a sprinkling of a collaborative document management on top. It’s highly unusual and really has no physical process which it replicates. Thus it will take some time for people to develop their own standards and conventions on how Wave will be used. It will be interesting to see how it will develop as I can see many different ways of setting Wave standards, each with their own merits.

Is it a faux pas to respond inline whilst someone is typing? When is part of a Wave off-limits for replying to? Do you ever need to actually hit done, since you can just keep re-editing your wave which everyone can see? There are so many questions and only time with everyday usage will give us the answers.

If you’re on Wave and want to have a chat, I’m on there at [email protected]

Google Wave: Rethinking Communication.

Taking a look over the past decade or so of technology and communications you’ll notice that they’re hasn’t been any revolutionary ideas that have come forward. Sure there have been a lot of improvements or augmentations to current technology but no one has really gone back and thought about the underlying principals of communication and how to make them transcend new mediums. When I first heard about Google Wave it was something that was supposed to be “pretty cool” but I didn’t hear much more of it then that. Queue the following video, which I thoroughly recommend watching if you have the time (I’ll give a general overview of it anyway if you can’t spare the 1.5 hours):

In essence Wave is a wrapper around many different modes of communication such as email, twitter and instant messaging with augmentations that allow for some creative ways of interacting with the flow of the communications. This by itself isn’t a revolutionary means of transforming communication but due to Google’s idea of open sourcing the majority of the code and having a wealth of APIs developed this will allow the market to drive the innovation, and that is where the true revolution can begin.

Looking over it I couldn’t help but notice a trend that has been developing over the past few years when it comes to technologies like this. On the Internet we have access to such wide and disperate sources of information that it is easy to become overwhelmed when you’re trying to filter out everything you don’t want to see. Many technologies have tried to solve this issue by allowing you to aggregate your personal choices into one interface (things like RSS feeds) in the hopes to focus your experience. Wave is Google’s attempt to transcend all the mediums and bring them onto a more robust and open platform which is not only a boon for them but also for standards based development, something that the Internet has been lacking for a long time (thank you Internet Explorer!).

I like the idea a lot. I see myself using many different forms of communication these days and it would be great to have a unified web based interface to the lot of them. Of course the augmentations that Google has added (that spell checker and auto-translator are awesome) would make using this platform worthwhile but as we’ve seen with other Google products once the developers get their hands on it the applications will widen considerably. Couple that with the fact that they’ll let you run your own Wave server and I’m sold, I love having new toys to play with on my web server 🙂

Hopefully the haiku and ASCII frog I sent them will butter them up enough to send me an invite….. 😉