As someone who spent a large chunk of lifetime working on improving knowledge worker effectiveness, especially around computer mediated communication and collaboration, I can barely contain my excitement. I’ve just sat through the lengthy video of yesterday’s unveiling of Google Wave in the I/O developer conference. Not only have the good folks at Google integrated the most central processes of Computer Supported Collaborative Work – Email, IM, Shared document editing, Discussion boards, and more – into a single tool; but they’ve upgraded their underlying paradigms – which had changed very little in decades – into a dynamic, vibrant usage model that takes advantage of the latest Web 2.0 concepts (and then some).
The video is quite long, as was the demo, but well worth your time to watch. I won’t repeat the details; if you don’t have patience for the video, there are screenshots here and some info here. They include concepts we’ve been waiting to improve on for years (like properly dealing with, and visualizing, discussion threads) and others I haven’t seen yet (like an intelligent, meaning-sensitive spell checker).
What will be very interesting to behold when this product comes out later this year is how different segments of the user base adapt to the new paradigm. The Social Networking set should be ecstatic, but what will large enterprises do? The new features of Wave could revolutionize their collaboration effectiveness, so they stand to gain the most, but many large organizations are not known for their agility where new technology (or changes in ingrained cultural paradigms) are involved. Those who do adopt and unleash this power will have a serious competitive advantage, IMHO.
Kudos to the Google team that developed this down under!