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Google Asks: "What Would Email Look Like, If It Were Invented Today?"
October 1, 2009 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Google began inviting volunteers to a public preview test of their new Wave web-based collaborative email and document communications platform yesterday, which enables users to "communicate and work together in real time." Initial reviews this past May seemed positive. (Previously)

Features include real-time collaboration, (including concurrent editing and control of each "wave" thread,) natural language tools and a variety of APIs which users can use to embed content in other sites.

Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009 (80min video -- an abridged 10 minute version is here. Wave login page is here.

Google Wave Federation Protocol is an open source project for developers.

The WSJ reports that invites are now for sale on EBay. Something similar happened when Google launched GMail in 2004.
posted by zarq (75 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't really have a use for this yet, but will be definitely interested to see what people do use it for.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:47 AM on October 1, 2009


It looks as if the system is entirely web based, and therefore not dependent on a user's specific OS.
posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on October 1, 2009


Has anyone on Mefi gotten on? All I hear on comment boards and twitter (last I checked) is mostly people gripping that they haven't gotten theirs yet, and people speculating when Google will send the invites out, if they haven't sent it yet.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2009


Yep, I got an account this morning. It's a little buggy, but it's neat. A bit quiet right now. I'm looking forward to working with it once I can count on all my colleagues having access to it.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:53 AM on October 1, 2009


I want an invite, like everybody else. That said, my favorite thing about this is the disembodied help videos from Dr. Wave that got uploaded a few days ago. They're supposed to be viewed in google wave but since almost all of us are locked out of it it looks like he's pointing to nonexistant things and modules. He's got a phony doctorate and flailing around with poor comedic timing in a random black space like a mimed out version of Goddess Kring. It's like that existential Garfield project where they take out the conversation, mixed with Mega Man.
posted by cashman at 7:54 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is it a sad sign about my upbringing that I can't read or hear the word 'collaborate' without thinking of Ice, Ice Baby?

Vanilla Ice, what have you done to meeeeeeeee
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:08 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


That said, my favorite thing about this is the disembodied help videos from Dr. Wave that got uploaded a few days ago.

Every company should use a simple filter: "Would Apple do this?" Not that Apple is perfect by any means but they do have very high standards for professionalism. Dr. Wave fails this test.
posted by smackfu at 8:09 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I still don't get Wave.

GET OFF MY POND!
posted by DU at 8:11 AM on October 1, 2009


I'm on wave, and honestly, it looks like USENET with some web 2.0 and a limited user base.

blarg.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:12 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't see it taking off as the entirely closed system it is currently. Isn't it supposed to replace my email?

If non-users can email you at wave then I think it would slowly take off as everyone woudl move to it to get the additional features of the wave.
posted by mary8nne at 8:18 AM on October 1, 2009


Anyone with an account can spread the love in this thread. You know, after you send me one (which I'll pass on).
posted by phrontist at 8:18 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What will this do for the porn industry?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Has anyone on Mefi gotten on?

I'm in. As I mentioned to someone there, right now it feels a bit like standing about in a big empty room waiting for the other party guests to arrive. And as for functionality, right now it does seem a bit like glorified IM, although I do suspect as more people come in some of the expanded functionality may seem more pertinent.

I'm still walking into walls and bumping into things figuring it out, however. It does have a bit of a learning curve.
posted by jscalzi at 8:33 AM on October 1, 2009


It seems like it could be useful, but doesn't seem that exciting, which is pretty standard for Google.
posted by delmoi at 8:36 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


don't have wave, but i've got 96 invites for gmail left! any buyers?
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:40 AM on October 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


It seems like it could be useful, but doesn't seem that exciting, which is pretty standard for Google.
posted by delmoi at 11:36 AM on October 1


That's not really fair. I creamed my pants the day I got a Gmail invite and could ditch god-forsaken Yahoo mail. Gmail really raised the bar for (free) mail service providers.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 8:41 AM on October 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


What will this do for the porn industry?

or spam for that matter.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:42 AM on October 1, 2009


I just got this yesterday and have no idea what it's good for.
posted by octothorpe at 8:45 AM on October 1, 2009


I'm personally waiting for Google to develop a good model for social relationships, which I can see this fitting in to. The issue with sites like Facebook is the friend/not friend model isn't a good match for most real life relationships. Something that determine levels of friendship between people automatically would be quite useful. Tracking frequency of conversations and collaborations would be a first step in that direction.
posted by borkencode at 8:45 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


It seems like it could be useful, but doesn't seem that exciting, which is pretty standard for Google.

google maps i rest my case
posted by DU at 8:46 AM on October 1, 2009


I'm in. My opinion of it is 'meh', so far, but I'm going to try to play around with programming a bot this evening.
posted by empath at 8:46 AM on October 1, 2009


Can someone tell me how to delete a contact?
posted by empath at 8:47 AM on October 1, 2009


I'm sort of divided... I like new stuff like this when it comes out, but I'm already part of so many different networks. I have friends that chat on gchat, friends that mostly do their networking on facebook, some people who do myspace, 1 or 2 that tweet, and on and on. I have different logins for each of these service, and the communities don't come close to overlapping. If I actually took the time to keep up with each community, then it would take hours out of my day (I don't, for what it's worth). Each of these services is a walled garden competing for ad revenue - the motor that drives all of these social networking sites.

I almost wish there was a universal social networking ID where I could just log in once and be done with it. I remember a few years back Flock (the browser) tried to do this, but it was buggy and more trouble than it was worth.
posted by codacorolla at 8:53 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can someone tell me how to delete a contact?

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo
posted by cashman at 8:53 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The issue with sites like Facebook is the friend/not friend model isn't a good match for most real life relationships. Something that determine levels of friendship between people automatically would be quite useful. Tracking frequency of conversations and collaborations would be a first step in that direction.

FriendRank.

I think I'm going to undergo a kind of macro meiosis from the simultaneous levels of web geek enthusiasm and rest-of-me revulsion I'm experiencing thinking about the concept.
posted by weston at 8:54 AM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Man, and here I thought it had already launched and flopped. I guess I didn't read any of the wankery about the previews closely enough to find out that it was just speculation about a preview.
posted by egypturnash at 8:59 AM on October 1, 2009


I'm in as well... It's like multiplayer email. I'm not sure I get it. I've got a few folks experimenting on a wave with me, and we're all going "okay, now what." I'm sure it has some usefulness, but is it better/more useful than setting up a quick DokuWiki or something? I'm not so sure...
posted by fet at 9:00 AM on October 1, 2009


Does this support quizzes? It seems like 95% of Facebook use is quizzes.
posted by smackfu at 9:19 AM on October 1, 2009


yes, there's a poll gadget built in.
posted by empath at 9:22 AM on October 1, 2009


Btw -- this is NOT facebook or anything like it.
posted by empath at 9:22 AM on October 1, 2009


I've got very few contacts so far, so it's boring for me as well, but I think it's just going to mostly end up like a private message board for your friends, except slightly more convenient. You can already embed pictures, movies, etc.
posted by ignignokt at 9:24 AM on October 1, 2009


So this is something you have to have friends to understand?
posted by desjardins at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


I just got this yesterday and have no idea what it's good for.

Absolutely NOTHING!

Say it again now!

Oh, wait. That's something else that starts with W.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:33 AM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, scammers/phishers/malware-mongers are reported to have begun setting up fake "Wave Invite" sites/blogs and are gaming the search engines to lure the unsuspecting who are looking to get into the beta.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:38 AM on October 1, 2009


I have a real issue with how it handles user preferences for bots and gadgets.

It doesn't. If you want to save settings for a bot itself needs to save it.

For example -- there's a bot that posts entries to posterous.

When you first call it, it asks for your email address and posterous password.

I read the code of the bot -- it stores it in the memcache of that app in google app engine for 24 hours. But he could just as easily be saving it to the data store and creating a list of email addresses and passwords -- and since a lot of people use the same username and password for everything, he could own your life pretty easily.

This is terrible design. You should be able to save preferences to your own wave profile, so you can edit them and delete them, and bots should be able to access this and modify it.
posted by empath at 9:41 AM on October 1, 2009


How many invites are coming with new wave accounts? Does anyone have a 'spare' kicking around?
posted by paxton at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2009


Possibly off topic a bit - but I've often asked myself this - what would email look like if it were invented today. If we threw out SMTP.

SMTP worked and grew for the same reason spam is a problem - it's open and easy to grow. There is no central authority.

Based on today's common technologies:

- We'd use SSL/TLS only for all mail.
- The "global mail" network would require publicly recognized SSL certificates - like what we do with browsers. Both for servers, and for the client.
- Mail server administrators would issue certificates to their clients.
- Other than that, it wouldn't be much different from today - except we'd be able to use signing authorities as a factor in handling filtering, and a certain level of trust woudl be required before you could "go global".
- We'd still have spammers, blacklists, and tools to fight them - but it would work better.
- Mail would be more secure.
posted by TravellingDen at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: like USENET with some web 2.0 and a limited user base.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:49 AM on October 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm looking forward to trying it out once I get an invite, but I have a feeling that this is something that's fairly useless for the generally friendless.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:12 AM on October 1, 2009


So would this be why gmail is moving at the speed of evolution today?
posted by Kellydamnit at 10:14 AM on October 1, 2009


Every company should use a simple filter: "Would Apple do this?"
As long as they aren't web companies. If GMail had turned out like mail.me.com, there'd be a lot of sadface.

As for Wave, I'm beginning to *really* like it, for a sort of crossover between shared collaborations with my friends and email. Our shared list o' links is filling up with good stuff, and the reply/comedy aside stuff works smoothly.

What's really exciting is the little hints of what could come: "waves" are containers for much more than text. The invite system is a wave, and has a little form right in the page. This really bodes well.
posted by fightorflight at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2009


Our shared list o' links is filling up with good stuff

How are you doing this? Just a wave full of links?
posted by empath at 10:46 AM on October 1, 2009


Yep, pretty much. But unlike the old version we had in GMail, you can go back and edit the older parts of the wave, so instead of basically having the history in one huge long thread, it's always up to date and one shortish neat page (with the history hidden behind a "Playback" history animation).
posted by fightorflight at 11:01 AM on October 1, 2009


Has anybody got blogger integration working yet? can someone give me a step by step on that?
posted by empath at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2009


robocop is bleeding: Is it a sad sign about my upbringing that I can't read or hear the word 'collaborate' without thinking of Ice, Ice Baby Vanilla Ice, what have you done to meeeeeeeee

I've got the same problem, except with bacon, thanks to Ice, Ice Baby + YTMND. Mmmmm. Bacon.
posted by WCityMike at 11:16 AM on October 1, 2009


My friend who works at google invited me. So I have one other person I can "wave" with. AWESOME.
posted by chunking express at 11:30 AM on October 1, 2009


My friend who works at google invited me. So I have one other person I can "wave" with. AWESOME.

Same exact thing here. For now, I just have my buddy at Google. I'm waiting for the sweatshop to send out my invites.
posted by brundlefly at 11:41 AM on October 1, 2009


Something about the concept and design reminds me of what a modern version of Hotline might have looked like.

I look forward to playing with it.
posted by quin at 11:47 AM on October 1, 2009


If a wiki scared my company, there is no way they would use this.

I think they prefer punch cards.
posted by stormpooper at 11:58 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am excited about the prospects of using it specifically for much the same reason that fightorflight is using it for. I hate email for that very reason. People tend to just email with the history attached and I prefer to not have it there. I like how Gmail tracks the conversation history and that way I can check previous emails if I want my own background on the conversation. However, just being able to playback conversations that others have done before is...amazing.

I'm really geekily excited for this.
posted by lizarrd at 12:31 PM on October 1, 2009


I have four remaining invites. If anyone's interested MeFi Mail me with your email address.
posted by brundlefly at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2009


Let me know when it fills up with Brazilians.
posted by gimonca at 12:52 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


And... I am out.
posted by brundlefly at 1:08 PM on October 1, 2009


is there a way to show blips in reverse chronological order (for use with the tweetbot, for example)
posted by empath at 1:32 PM on October 1, 2009


what happens to a wave when you 'trash' it? Does it remove it for other participants? If so, do you still get notified if someone edits it? Is there a way to get rid of a wave completely? I can't figure out a way to clear trash.
posted by empath at 1:59 PM on October 1, 2009


Can someone tell me how to delete a contact?

Click on Manage Contacts. That will open up Google's Contacts site. Search for the Contact you want to delete. Then delete them. (There is a "delete contact" button.)
posted by chunking express at 2:03 PM on October 1, 2009


Is this the invite whoring thread? Because if someone sends me an invite I will do unspeakable things for you. Like saying thank you and so forth.
posted by Justinian at 2:30 PM on October 1, 2009


Hackers and Scalper Pounce on Google Wave Invites
"Google Wave has hit some rough waters. Just a day after the Internet search giant began e-mailing invitations to test the wave, online shenanigans have erupted. The online tool, which will allow users to post photos, videos and text in real time, has gained so much buzz that hackers have created search traps for 'Google Wave' and a scalper attempted to sell access."
posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on October 1, 2009


As it stands right now (I've been playing with it all day), I don't see this taking off. There's no way enough people will just outright switch from using other modes of communication.

Now, what would really make this work, I think, is if in Gmail, if the person you're corresponding with is also in Gmail (or some other provider that supports it), you could click make this conversation a wave.
posted by dmd at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2009


dmd, i'd be shocked if they don't have that in mind down the road.
posted by brundlefly at 4:04 PM on October 1, 2009


I too would love an invite if anyone has a spare one. Email in profile :)
posted by aburd at 4:21 PM on October 1, 2009


The invite exchange is over here, kids. Let's not clutter this one up.
posted by empath at 5:38 PM on October 1, 2009


Will I have to teach regular people how to use this? Or will they be able to figure it out on their own?
posted by squalor at 10:02 PM on October 1, 2009


You will definitely have to teach regular people how to use this, it's not intuitive AT ALL.

Are an of you guys working on developing a robot or a gadget for it -- the documentation sucks, and I think it might be cool to have a wave of us to drop questions in if we're stuck on something.

What's the best way to put that together? Send me a wave and I'll drop you into a mefi developers wave? I dunno... anyway i'm at empath@googlewave.com (please, only if you're working with the Wave API)
posted by empath at 10:52 PM on October 1, 2009


It's almost as good as Groove!
posted by borges at 10:54 PM on October 1, 2009


An Introduction to Google Wave - Google Wave: Up and Running - O'Reilly Media.

"So What Exactly Is Google Wave
In a Nutshell

Simply stated, Google Wave is a real-time communication and collaboration platform that incorporates several types of web technologies, including email, instant messaging (IM), wiki, online documents, and gadgets. In more technical terms, Google Wave is a platform based on hosted XML documents (called waves) supporting concurrent modifications and low-latency updates."
posted by cashman at 4:58 AM on October 2, 2009


So there is NO way to remove a bot from a thread. That's terrible. And you can update bots on the fly.

Someone could write a useful bot, get a lot of people to add it to their waves, and then update it to be malicious, the effect would be instantaneous, and nobody would be able to do anything about it.
posted by empath at 9:14 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like, for example -- they could write a bot that does, like -- i dunno smiley replacements.

Then after a million people add it to their waves, change it so it, say, automatically embed the contents of the wave on a blog, or forwards the contents secretly to a database somewhere.

I think it's fair to say that the contents of none of the waves can be considered to be private... All it takes is one person to add a bot and your data is compromised.
posted by empath at 9:18 AM on October 2, 2009


Thank you for these updates empath. I hope they hear your concerns. What you describe certainly seems like a gaping hole.
posted by cashman at 9:23 AM on October 2, 2009


The official wave team response is that bots can't do anything that people can't do.

Which is true to an extent, but people can't also act on thousands of individual waves simultaneously.
posted by empath at 9:45 AM on October 2, 2009


Like I was shocked when I added 'bloggy' to a wave and it just instantly embedded the entire wave on some random blog without any prompting. That seems like really bad. They need some kind of permissions system, which unfortunately will take some of the magic out of it.
posted by empath at 10:08 AM on October 2, 2009


I think a lot of these concerns would go away in a business environment with a locally hosted wave server that had the ability to ban 3rd party bots entirely.
posted by empath at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2009


If someone has an invite, I would appreciate one!
posted by alshain at 5:32 PM on October 2, 2009


This dude made this video explaining wave, and just scored himself an invite.
posted by cashman at 6:49 PM on October 2, 2009


So there is NO way to remove a bot from a thread. That's terrible.

There's no way to remove anyone from a wave. I have to think this is an oversight they'll be correcting as time goes on. There's a lot that's unfinished/half-finished, in keeping with the actual-beta-not-Gmail-beta nature of the app.
posted by sparkletone at 4:12 PM on October 3, 2009


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