Thursday New Tools Feature: Wave Goodbye to Old Methods of Communication and Collaboration

At Google's recent "I/O" developer conference in San Francisco, the company unveiled an intriguing new tool called Wave, which Google deems its attempt to "reinvent email for the 21st century." That is, however, an inaccurate and outdated way of thinking about what Wave really is. Wave is a web-based, open-source platform that is designed to seamlessly integrate communication and collaboration. That may sound a little vague, so take a look at it in action:

This is only a preview of the developer version, so it is likely to evolve significantly from where it is right now. But even in this early stage, it shows a huge amount of potential. Sometimes, Google releases things that elicit a brief "oh, cool" reaction but then fade from the radar screen. I think Wave will be different for a number of reasons, but the biggest is that it allows users to take advantage of the internet in a more natural and organic way, a way more in tune with the nature of the internet itself. After seeing the demo, Joe Trippi tweeted "Just posted the Google Wave demo on my blog - definitely check it out if you haven't yet. What do you think? Game changer?" and then later, "More on Google Wave. Did they just reinvent online communication?" The people at ReadWriteWeb, after doing a hands-on trial, write:

What we have seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg, but we can already envision how this could replace our internal chat room here at RWW, and how it could revolutionize the way employees in a company communicate. Wave definitely takes some getting used to, but once you get into the flow of things, regular email suddenly feels stale and slow.

While Google is busy reinventing how we collaborate together on the web, the White House is busy trying to bring these kinds of innovations into government. As part of the Open Government Initiative, which I blogged about a few weeks ago, the Obama Administration held a "Brainstorm" using IdeaScale. Once again, I like the top entries (athough they will, of course, be ignored), but this time the IdeaScale thing is just one part of a three-phase process which also includes a discussion phase, where users discuss the ideas brought up in the brainstorm, and then a "draft" phase where users will "Collaborate on crafting constructive proposals to address challenges from the Discussion phase." It's an ambitious evolution of the Administration's efforts in this sphere, and we'll be keeping a close eye on it.