What To Do With Google Wave

Updated: June 10, 2009

Google Wave is the brainchild of Lars and Jens Rasmussen, whose Where 2 Tech software became Google Maps. The brothers recently embarked upon a new path, asking themselves three difficult questions:

1. "Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication — email versus chat, or conversations versus documents?"

They question duality - the fundamental belief that things are separate. There is a subject which observes and an object which is observed. Objects are separate things; email is email and chat is chat. But duality is false, a delusion.

"The fundamental delusion of humanity is that I am here and you are out there," wrote Yasutani Roshi.

Every sentient being knows intuitively that all are one. Every one of us feels a drive to be "part of something greater," to unite with a "soul mate," to break through our delusion of duality. "Collaboration" and "integration" are among the most common buzzwords in the Web 2.0 economy. People know, without knowing they know, that there are no "divides between different types of communication." Google Wave starts from that assumption instead of the other, outdated one.

2. "Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the web today, in one smooth continuum? How simple could we make it?"

Their prototype effort remains to be seen. It is described as "equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together…

"In Google Wave you create a wave 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. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave... You can also use ‘playback' to rewind the wave and see how it evolved."

It sounds as if Google Wave eliminates many of time's constraints. Things happen simultaneously instead of sequentially. You can go back into the past and watch creation unfold frame by frame. You "can see what someone's typing before he hits enter" and actually read his mind in the act of thinking.

That's all pretty disturbing, when you think about it.

3. What if we tried designing a communications system that took advantage of computers' current abilities, rather than imitating non-electronic forms?"

Then you would have something that no one has seen before, and they would not know what to do with it. We have Web pages because people know what to do with pages from using books. When Google Wave is introduced it will cause enormous confusion. Confusion is good because it spawns change, and change is nature itself.

"Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things." - Marcus Aurelius

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