User Interface Implications of Google Wave

I set aside the time tonight to watch the full hour and a half demo of Google Wave. Seeing the creators use their product shed some light onto the possibilities of the system. However, I’m glad I read the technical specifications before witnessing the user interface.

The initial focus and reaction around Google Wave centers, rightfully, on communication. In particular, the real-time aspects were highlighted and comparisons drawn to Twitter and FriendFeed. Some even tout it as the “one true” communication tool.

It’s important to note, though, that different people have different needs. For example, both Scott Rosenberg and Fred Wilson find the interface to be complicated. Fortunately, under the open development model Google is taking, others are free to design simpler interfaces.

Looking at things from a technical perspective, the communication-centric mindset is noticeably absent. The general architecture is nothing more than an instantly distributed version control system, complete with access control and an extensible content model.

True, that forms a solid foundation for Google Wave the communication tool. It also forms a solid foundation for myriad other applications, including those yet to be imagined. (I’m starting a timer; stop me when the first FUSE file system is released.)

While its interesting to explore the impact of Wave on existing ideas, I also think its important to step away from drawing comparisons. The “killer app” for Wave is likely something that doesn’t exist currently. The synthesis of features in the underlying technology will allow something new to germinate.

It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves. I fully expect to see many front-end interfaces to Wave designed. Some of those will certainly not be geared toward communication uses for the back-end.


Lonna Hanson
June 2, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Sounds very interesting, Jared.

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