Sunday 7 June 2009

Is this the shape of the Wave?

Having cut my collaboration and knowledge management teeth in a heavily Lotus Notes orientated environment, but also at a time when the Web was making its first attempt at coming to power (i.e. the dot com boom) I really want to listen to what someone like Ray Ozzie has to say, but find it hard to take his views as a credible perspective.

For example, there is perhaps a ring of truth about his comments about the overstated potential for Google Wave, reported in the FT's TechBlog:

Wave is just too big and complex a system. Google’s engineers had no choice but to take this approach given the grandeur of their vision, but in the process they have come up with something that will fail to get adopted in the fabric of the Web.
I mean, I think Gmail is the best email application ever. Full stop. I love the Ninja theme :-)

But while it might set the benchmark for email user interfaces, functionality and even changed our view about email quotas, it hasn’t changed the underlying architecture of email.

Google Wave is much more ambitious. But in the long tail of Web innovation, for every uber-developer at Google there is an army of part-time coders tweaking and hacking away at their own vision of next generation [insert application type here]. And in between there are plenty of vendors trying to get a of the corporate wallet share with their own Web-like, but Web 2.0-not products.

Still, I don’t see much from Ozzie these days. I don’t see him online experiencing Web 2.0 much either. The people at Google on the other hand are accessible, active and living Web 2.0.

Maybe its just a changing of guard? People like Ray Ozzie and others I’ve admired like Tom Davenport have helped prepare me for the emergence of Web 2.0 and I don’t want to forget that. But its now up to the new innovators, like Google and many others, who live and work in the Web to actually take us to that next stage.

Regardless of what things like Wave, Twitter, Yahoo! Pipes and all the other wonderful things we've seen emerge eventually become, they will shape the future, if not entirely redefine it in the ways we thought. I think the bigger question about Wave isn't about the technology, but if we are *all* actually ready for this kind of real-time collaboration?

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