Six Ways that Google Wave is Going to Change Your Business, Career and Life

Google recently announced their most ambitious project to date called Google Wave. According to Google, Wave is “what email would look like if it was invented today.”

If you haven’t made time to watch the one hour video, I’d highly recommend you do so today.

What’s the big deal?

I believe there are six reasons why Wave is going to have a huge impact on you. However, this is all predicated on mass adoption of the technology. If no-one uses it, then obviously it won’t have a world-changing affect. However, I strongly believe Wave is going to achieve mass adoption for these reasons:

  1. Google has the world-wide audience necessary.
  2. Google has the cash in order to market Wave and promote its benefits.
  3. There is a huge financial benefit to working more efficiently. People who use Wave will be able to work faster, thus leaving behind those that stick to good-ol-fashion SMTP email.
  4. Wave is open-source (more on that below). If you want, you’ll be able to run Wave on your internal corporate network, without ever sending a single byte of data to Google.
  5. You can run it on the cloud, thus reducing in-house IT costs.

Now I’d like to explain why I think Wave is going to have a life-changing affect on you and your business:

1. Extensions

Google is making it easy to augment the power of Wave by writing Wave Extensions. These are similar to Firefox Add-ons and they fall into two areas: Robots and Gadgets. Here’s an explanation from the Extensions site:

  1. A robot is an automated participant on a wave. Robots are applications which run in the “cloud” and can modify state within the wave itself. A robot can read the contents of a wave in which it participates, modify the wave’s contents, add or remove participants, and create new blips and new waves. Robots perform actions in response to events. For example, a robot might publish the contents of a wave to a public blog site and update the wave with user comments. Check out the Robots API Overview and a Tutorial.
  2. A gadget is a small application that runs within a client. The gadget is owned by the wave, and all participants on a wave share the same gadget state. The only events a gadget responds to are changes to its own state object, and changes in the wave’s participants (for example, participants joining or leaving the wave). The gadget has no influence over the wave itself. Wave gadgets typically aren’t full blown applications, but small add-ons that improve certain types of conversations. For example, a wave might include a sudoku gadget that lets the wave participants compete to see who can solve the puzzle first. There’s a tutorial if you’re interested.

Screengrab of several Wave extensions

So why are Wave Extensions such a big deal? I believe that developers and designers will be able to sell Extensions to their clients or to a wider audience, possibly in an Extensions marketplace. This means a huge potential source of new income, providing there is mass adoption of Wave.

2. Embedding APIs

Google has created a huge API to Wave, but one of the really interesting parts is the ability to embed a Wave into any web page. A great example of how this could be used with blogging. You can create a Wave and then publish it to your blog. Then whenever someone comments on the blog post, it appears as a reply to you Wave in your Wave client – no need to visit the site.

That’s the kicker, embedded Waves remove the need to physically visit a site in order to interact with it. This is a fundamental, and very exciting, change to the way we currently interact with blogs and content.

Screengrab of an embedded Wave in a blog

So why is the Wave Embedding API such a big deal? It means that content is king and consuming it will become even easier. Really understanding this and taking advantage of it’s power will make you much more effective in reaching your audience.

3. Collaboration

The separation between documents and emails will be completely removed with Waves. This is because Waves can be edited by more than one person. A great example would be taking notes for a meeting. Here’s how it might work:

  1. I create a Wave titled “Notes from website branding project”
  2. I add the other people in the meeting as participants in the Wave
  3. Everyone who is a participant in the Wave can take notes simultaneously
  4. After the meeting, everyone’s got a copy of the notes

An added benefit is that people can “chat” during the meeting, by creating private replies right inside the Wave. The writer can choose whether or not to make this chat visible to other participants.

4. Open Source

Google doesn’t intend to ‘own’ Wave. They have open-sourced the technology and created the Wave Federation Protocol. A brief explanation from Google is:

[Wave Federation Protocol is] the underlying network protocol for sharing waves between wave providers.

Yes, that’s between wave providers: anyone can build a wave server and interoperate, much like anyone can run their own SMTP server. The wave protocol is open to contributions by the broader community with the goal to continue to improve how we share information, together.

To help potential wave providers get started, our plan is to release an open source, production-quality, reference implementation of the Google Wave client and server, as well as provide an open federation endpoint by the time users start getting access.

This means you can either use Wave hosted on Google’s infrastructure, or you can have it hosted on your own server, without ever interracting or sharing data with Google.

This makes it completely different from Microsoft Exchange Server, and even Google Apps (which isn’t available to host on your own infrastructure).

5. Google Web Toolkit (GWT)

Wave is written entirely in Google Web Toolkit. GWT allows you to write HTML 5 web apps in Java, which are then cross-compiled into optimized JavaScript. If you want to learn more, this video explanation is very helpful.

I’ve always been wary of auto-generated code, but I think this might be an exception to the rule (providing your ensure the HTML is accessible and standards-compliant). All you have to do is look at the Wave demo in order to realize GWT is seriously powerful.

What does this mean for you? I means if you’re a web developer, you need to have a serious look at GWT and the potential benefits it has to offer. Programming in Java gives you all the traditional benefits of breakpoints and being able to step through your code.

There is also a plugin for Eclipse if you’re interested.

6. Playback

The increased collaboration that possible with Wave might actually make it confusing for someone to be added to a Wave after a lot of editing and replies have been made. Enter ‘Wave Playback. The best way to explain it is by jumping to minute 13:00 on the Wave introduction video.

This feature allows you to step through the changes to a Wave as they happened over time.

What do you think?

Obviously we think Wave is a big deal, but what do you think? We’d love to hear your comments below.

If you’re interested, there are two other videos that are worth watching:

  1. Live Collaborative Editing: A short video explaining concurrency control and operational transformation in Google Wave
  2. Natural Language Processing: A short video explaining how Google uses their vast search history to implement spell checking.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/philipgibbs

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Comments

79 comments on “Six Ways that Google Wave is Going to Change Your Business, Career and Life

  1. I've seen the demo online, but not had a chance to play with this yet. However my initial thoughts are:

    – What's the addressing scheme (ie if my email address is lee@foo.com what is my wave "address")
    – Following on from that – how will people still on email/IM interact with someone who has moved to wave? Will the wave user still have to use his email client or will there be a feasible integration – this would be a key driver for adoption of Wave for me – being able to just drop Outlook and move over
    – How have they addressed the "spam" issue. This is the *biggest* problem email has today, and Google need to have answered that for this to be a true leap forward.

  2. Wave is pretty amazing indeed and it will most likely change the way we work!

    Few points though:

    1. I am not sure that you can easily control the accessibility of your HTML code with GWT (this is one of the main downsides to using auto code generation tools)

    2. Google Wave may experience the same up-take problems like Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I have struggled to get used to using Google Docs and Spreadsheets on daily basis (in fact I don't use them at all yet for some reason). Users somehow have an issue with working on 'heavy' web apps in the browser.

    3. Many corporations will not want to wave their data around in the cloud due to various privacy, security and control concerns, which is the usual cloud computing issue that exists.

  3. The big thing standing in the way of Google Wave's wide spread adoption is the legacy of existing email. The fact is that even if you adopt Wave within your organisation (as we are intending to do in Headscape) you still need to communicate with others. The chances are these others are using email. In the demo there is no mention about how (if at all) Wave can communicate with existing email clients. Until somebody works out a good way of turning emails into waves and vice versa adoption will be extremely slow.

    • Hi Paul,

      Can you point me to some resources for adopting Wave into an organisation? I don’t have any coding experience beyond basic html but I’d really like to propose this to my company. Any info you can give would be greatly appreciated chrispey at gmail dot com

  4. This looks really interesting and I'm all in favour of open-source. I know a few people have a problem with Google monopolising the internet but I think I'll be welcoming Wave with open arms!

    Thanks for the informative post :)

  5. My biggest concern about Wave is answering the question: "What does it do?" The answer I saw was: "Everything!"
    My inner geek loves the idea of wave, loves its extensibility, loves the real-time, loves the integration of everything. It could easily be "one app to rule them all".
    But how do I explain Wave to my clients? How do I get them to adopt when email and Facebook are near overwhelming technologies?
    I wonder if Wave will end up being a platform people develop apps on. "My wave is like an email client" "My wave is for video sharing" Ideally, I'd want my waves to be topic/people driven with all the technologies available, but I wonder if the general market will be able to bring their "this program does this job" mentality along with them when they come.

  6. I'm still struggling to understand what Wave is, but this article made it clearer.

    A problem with Wave might be that it takes a one hour video to understand why it's useful. Usually technologies that become widely adopted are instantly understandable — this isn't always the case of course. Hopefully it'll reach critical mass at which point it permeates so many sites and technologies that people use it without wondering what it is: kind of like Twitter.

  7. "Wave is pretty amazing indeed and it will most likely change the way we work! "

    Totally agree. Not only that, but it will change the way we communicate, receive news and information, and also the way we search for information. I see it being the one stop solution for most needs required online. With integration into search technology and many other options further down the line, Wave could mark a starting point in the development of many 'social' programs. But yes, as mentioned, it NEEDS to be able to utilise other services from other providers – i.e. not only for use with Gmail, for example.

    It is this openness to other competitiors & companies that will see whether is adoption is taken on large scale, or only restricted to a small percentage of tech-savvy web users.

    I honestly can't believe no-one else has been working on something like this. It seemed common sense when facebook and twitter took off. Managing many social networks in fragemented websites with different access, windows etc is not really sustainable long term.

  8. Pingback: Catching a Wave.. | Jiva Technology

  9. I don't think Google will Open Source the wave client. Without other Wave clients out there, there won't be much use of the federation that is built into the protocol.

  10. "They have open-sourced the technology and created the Wave Federation Protocol."

    This is a huge deal. This is the difference between something being another interesting service, and being a candidate for a new and crucial part of the internet infrastructure as a whole.

    Any chance of an RFC?

  11. bq. I’ve always been wary of auto-generated code, but I think this might be an exception to the rule (providing your ensure the HTML is accessible and standards-compliant). All you have to do is look at the Wave demo in order to realize GWT is seriously powerful.

    Hmm. Not quite sure GWT makes any sense without the Javascript. I guess the html still needs to be valid, but I can't see how it can be accessible. Like I say – without JS GWT apps don't load. GWT is great if you know Java but there's a big learning curve if you don't.

  12. I think Wave made the announcement to counter Microsoft's release of Bing.

    I foresee gazillion gadgets popping up once this is released. I like the embedding feature of it.

    Does anyone have a chance to work with it yet? I was told it is supposed to be released sometime this year.

    • Agree Mike, seen too much vaporware in my time, and jumping to conclusions. “Talk is cheap” – I will wait for the goods to arrive and see it perform under real live uses before piling on accolades of it taking over the Internet.

  13. I don't think it does. Sure, it might take a while to work out all of the ways you can maximise the use of it, but getting up and running should be easy. Wave seems to have a low entry level but then also seems to be full of surprises the more you use it. That's great technology.

  14. I don't know that it's true to say that a closed-garden Wave would kill it. Sure, it would be easier to integrate if it DOES work with already-existing SMTP/POP email, but I don't think it will die if it doesn't. After all, IM grew out of essentially nothing despite being also completely cut-off from email. And what Google's got is MUCH bigger than IM.

  15. Your wave's address would be username@waveserviceproviderdomain… it's not tied into your email address…. @Ryan, @Cailey, wave will be interact with external service through 'gateways' which will provide income and outgoing access to the system, and translate 'waves' into email and vice versa. It is extremely flexible, so you could write a gateway for anything… you can imagine it as a translation service.

  16. Imho, I think the guys at google have already thought on how to combine this with typical smtp emailing already. Having the browser send a piece of text, images and links to an email account if that person hasn't a 'wave account' of sorts, and getting the chance to suggest this people to register on the site. There will be slow people on getting into the new technology, same as they were with Facebook or Twitter or RSS suscriptions .. (same as anything else that comes with any new 'obscure' technology)

    This just came to mind: one robot I see easily coming to a Wave client near you is RSS suscriptions -> waves. This makes pretty good sense to me, as you would be able to receive private messages between you and the robot, then discuss the item with others just by adding them up to the wave created.

    Let me reword the name to that robot to RSS3PO Wave Reader. (just for the fun of it)

  17. Have a look through the Google Wave API discussion group. Integration with email, IM and dealing with spam are very hot topics. The good thing about this and the Google Wave Protocol group is that it is mainly the developers who are going to be developing these extensions that are discussing the solutions. I have placed a write up on Google Wave (my first blog post so please leave a comment if you check it out). You can get the links to these discussion groups from my post. http://tech2bus.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/google-w

  18. There is an underlying opportunity that may come as a result of the mass adoption of Wave, sneaky standards that are common place today such as chronic misuse of the BCC function will be hopefully be a thing of the past. The human race in general is sneaky, untrusting and often avoids accountability. Wave appears to naturally removes a lot of these ugly characteristics that have been bred by such a protocol that naturally breeds distrust, accountability and sneakiness. Check out my article on Google Wave at http://tech2bus.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/google-w
    It is my first blog post so if you check it out, please leave some feedback. Cheers

  19. There is an underlying opportunity that may come as a result of the mass adoption of Wave, sneaky standards that are common place today such as chronic misuse of the BCC function will be hopefully be a thing of the past. The human race in general is sneaky, untrusting and often avoids accountability. Wave appears to naturally removes a lot of these ugly characteristics that have been bred by such a protocol that naturally breeds distrust, accountability and sneakiness. Check out my article on Google Wave at http://tech2bus.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/google-w
    It is my first blog post so if you check it out, please leave some feedback. Cheers

  20. I started watching the video intending to stop after 5 minutes or so – but I just couldn't stop. It was all so interesting! I can't wait for wave technology – in fact, I emailed a few of my future coworkers (in the middle of a job change) and some close friends and told them to go sign up right away – because I know that the technology with be that much more fun and useful if I have people to use it with. And I know that I'm likely to be really annoyed/frustrated at people/companies who will be slow to adopt it.

  21. Basically an all in one tool, its nothing new. People are going to make mistakes with the complexity of the posting not allow this one allow that one, I just posted that to my boss… Great work collaborating now everyone knows your business . I would really like to see the policy on this project.

    I may be the only one that likes simplicity like posting on my blog and viewing the control panel why wouldn't you want to. Twitter is good enough for me if I want to post open source, google is becoming the company of "I can do it too and its free" Its not going to benefit anything or anyone really. Companies can't run like that forever, they know that.

    Tell you the truth the internet is a very, very boring place.

  22. I think you're missing an important about Wave.
    Just like Gmail was, Wave is the jewel of the web technologies, but the difference is that Wave is using upcomming technologies instead of technologies that had excisted for several years.

    Therefore is Wave also a gamechanger, because it will push on the development of better browsers.

  23. I agree with you that Wave will be a paradigm shift. That was actually the subject of my blog post at IT Thought of The Day this morning:

    http://www.itthoughtoftheday.com/2009/06/05/googl

    I believe that the combination of speed, content, and platform independence will bring the next transition in Internet communications to us all and I welcome it.

    Thank you for the super insightful evaluation of this cutting edge technology.

  24. I agree with you that Wave will be a paradigm shift. That was actually the subject of my blog post at IT Thought of The Day this morning:

    http://www.itthoughtoftheday.com/2009/06/05/googl

    I believe that the combination of speed, content, and platform independence will bring the next transition in Internet communications to us all and I welcome it.

    Thank you for the super insightful evaluation of this cutting edge technology.

  25. I don't see anything here that has not been done before with the various automagical mashup sites already out there, (pipes, pageflakes). Businesses in competitive markets of course would be insane to pipe thier inhouse communications to any third party. We have already seen how Google is 'considerate' to those with deep pockets or powerful friends.

    The only way this could take off is if the server stack is distributed as a one step install, and given the java underpinnings, this is highly unlikely.

  26. I'm a little worried that this is all of Google's plan for world domination! Hopefully the "do no evil" company will continue to live up to their morals. I believe that they should be regulated at some point in the future…

  27. WOW! Google will revolutionize the internet with this. This is one of the big problems with the 'net today. There are so many websites that someone may use, but you need to visit every page SEARCHING for the information you want (blog posts, reactions to comments, etc.) Having all this in ONE PLACE will revolutionize the web.

    And if you can do all this on the google G1 phone? That would be awesome!

    • A lot of people said that about Twitter though…

      I have a feeling growth of Wave will look very similar to that of Twitter, with it taking a while and a few ‘large’ (not necesarily celebrity) users before it goes mainstream.

  28. This is a great writeup, so much information in one place about Google Wave!

    At Twilio we're so excited about the potential for Google Wave, and we just guest-posted to the Google Wave developer blog about twiliobot, which is a robot we built for Google Wave with our telephony API: Twilio. The basic idea is to add click-to-call links and call transcription to a wave. Waaay beyond email!

    Here's a video of how it works:
    [youtube xnnNh0putWc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnnNh0putWc youtube]

    Working with the Google Wave API was awesome and straightforward — our CTO Evan hacked this together in about 5 hours at their hack-a-thon. I can't wait to see what comes next!

  29. This is a great writeup, so much information in one place about Google Wave!

    At Twilio we're so excited about the potential for Google Wave, and we just guest-posted to the Google Wave developer blog about twiliobot, which is a robot we built for Google Wave with our telephony API: Twilio. The basic idea is to add click-to-call links and call transcription to a wave. Waaay beyond email!

    Here's a video of how it works:
    [youtube xnnNh0putWc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnnNh0putWc youtube]

    Working with the Google Wave API was awesome and straightforward — our CTO Evan hacked this together in about 5 hours at their hack-a-thon. I can't wait to see what comes next!

  30. Gmail. has been introduced years ago but i agree that not more than half of the population in the planet right now uses it. I think Yahoo mail is the number 1 free email until now.

  31. I don't know man. For now I'll treat it just like another hyped up novelty (like the microsofts new search engine). I won't judge it until I see it myself.

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  33. Very exciting indeed! Between the Wave and Android devices Google is going to really have an impact on technology and the way we communicate overall.

  34. We just released another robot and gadget for Google Wave.

    The eBayBot is a google wave robot and gadget that allows you to search products and auctions on ebay.com in a collaborative environment right from google wave.
    We have posted some demo videos and install instructions at http://withwaves.com/ebay

  35. Pingback: CAKES: learning technology blog » Blog Archive » What is Google Wave Good For?

  36. Thanks for this write up, it’s a nice summary on Google Wave.

    Repliers here and on other websites don’t seem to realize what’s possible with Wave. Hell, even I haven’t been able to fully understand where the limit is to what Wave can do. But basically it will be next way of communicating. I imagine it like this:

    You have a business which runs it’s own wave server (much like most businesses run their own e-mail servers). On this wave server you do all the communication/collaboration stuff: you share documents (and write them up), do the messaging (like we used to do e-mail and IM), etc. This is much like Microsoft Exchange (which, btw, is usually selfhosted by companies – not run on Microsoft servers) and other Microsoft products like Sharepoint.

    But where Exchange and Sharepoint stop at the border of an organization (due to propriety protocols, for instance), wave is as an open protocol as e-mail is: now you e-mail everyone (doesn’t matter whether they are inside or outside the organization), with Wave you will collaborate and communicate with everyone.

    But it goes further: it will do all your internet-communication. Your communication on blogs and forums (like replying) will also be available in wave. Eventually wave will be your way to communicate to all kind of different services. And at some point it will probably replace a lot of the ‘older’ services like e-mail, IM and Twitter as well, just because wave can do this (and do this better).

    A small example: e-mail (SMTP) was build on a basis of trust (like a lot of the old internet protocols), people never imagined it being abused like it is today (94% of all e-mail is spam). This was never imagined because the amount of spam in our snailmail is not as much; to bad that ‘they’ didn’t think that the Internet would be such a big thing these days and that sending e-mail is so easy a widely spread ;). Wave is developed with the knowledge we have today: we look at the internet in a much different way and it’s fully incorporated into our lives; spam will probably be a thing of the past.

    Now don’t worry about Google going for world domination, this will all be released open source (all of it: the client, the server). People can even write up their own wave servers, as long as they use the protocol thought of by Google. This is the same as with e-mail. And yes, if you don’t communicate with users on Google’s own wave platform then Google will never know you’re even using wave (exactly the same as Google doesn’t know your e-mail address if you’ve never e-mailed to a Gmail user).

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  41. Some very interesting points. I think Google Wave will succeed purely because it allows everything to be managed in one place. This is hugely beneficial whether you’re looking from a financial or team productivity point of view. For example, Google Wave will allow internal bloggers, review/ copy writers to work together in real-time across all forms of media within one location. This is some what similar to when computer networking came about and how having everything in one place was revolutionary. Google Wave is completely different and I make no attempts to compare general computer networking with Google Wave but essentially there are some similarities between the two in how they represent the benefits of working from a central repository. If there is any chance of comparison, Google Wave is modern networking, on steroids, also built on XMPP technology and Web 2.0 principles, with HTML 5 and strongly typed JavaScript and DOM rendering to boot..

    The advantages continue with being able to commit changes to any number of external entities thanks to the open source nature of XMPP and particularly the presence of Google Wave Gadgets. Gadgets will allow employees to update multiple mediums from one click. I can’t for what Gadgets comes out tomorrow!

    With all this in mind, I think there’s no way Google Wave won’t pick up momentum as time goes on. When more Gadgets come along to show off what Wave can do, and more importantly, right now to create an accepted use for Wave I think companies won’t be able to afford not to embrace it.

    I don’t have the data, and this is a guesstimate but I’m fairly confident to use another comparison which was that when Apple released the iPhone the initial response was good, but when people started making quality apps it really started to hurt the other brands out there..

    Cheers, (sorry that was so long)

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  46. I think you're right about your second point. Wave will need to be interoperable with POP/SMTP email otherwise Wave is going to be a closed garden that only works with other Wave addresses – that will kill it immediately.

  47. Have a look through the Google Wave API discussion group. Integration with email, IM and dealing with spam are very hot topics. The good thing about this and the Google Wave Protocol group is that it is mainly the developers who are going to be developing these extensions that are discussing the solutions. I have placed a write up on Google Wave (my first blog post so please leave a comment if you check it out). You can get the links to these discussion groups from my post. http://tech2bus.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/google-w

  48. Hi Jason,

    Can you elaborate on your 1st point? I'd like to know more about the accessibility of GWT generated code?

    Also, regarding your point #3, you don't have to use Wave "in the cloud". You can host it on your own servers. Yay!

  49. On point 1 – GWT allows you to write any html code you like, it's not restrictive. So the html can be accessible although it makes little sense to have a GWT app that allows JS to be turned off. You can structure the html however you like and also write your own css. The widgets you use have their default styles but this can be overwritten.

    On point 2 – I use Google Docs for all my Word Processing. It's been a joy to not have to use MS Word ever again especially as you can now import Word Docs into Google Docs.

    On point 3 – then host Wave on your own servers.

  50. It's got to be interoperable with SMTP/POP clients, right? Otherwise it'll never work. It'd be crazy if you could only send Waves to people who were using Wave. I presume when you send a Wave to someone who isn't using it, it acts like a normal email.

  51. Perhaps they intend on integrating some level of this with their Gmail offering? It's not like half the planet doesn't use Gmail already right?