17 October 2009

Testing Google Wave

I had an invitation from Google to join their Wave preview, and very nice it is too. I invited the limited number of friends I'm allowed and started waving with them, Google Waveand we did a lot of the instant messaging things that I imagine most people will begin with.

But then I wondered how Wave would work in 'email' mode. The text that follows is copied straight from the Google Wave interface and pasted here. It explains some interesting thoughts that came to me as I wrote my first extended item in Wave.

Note: The 'wave address' in the footer won't work with Wave. It's just represented as an email address. I have no idea how Google will arrange mail to wave connections. But I'm confident that Google has already thought this through, at least in principle.

Using Wave like email - 9:25 am

Hi everyone,

This is my first attempt at using Wave in an email-like fashion. So far we've done quite a bit of instant-message-style waving, but I have a sense that the email approach will feel very different.

Thinking about it all while making the morning cuppa for me and Donna I could see that 'email' would be different (some of my best ideas pop into my head in embryo form at the kitchen sink or weeding the garden or emptying the cat's litter tray).

For one thing it answers a question we'd already pondered. Why have Google given us @googlewave.com addresses, why not use @gmail? Well, I think the answer may simply be that if Wave did have IMAP, SMTP and POP extensions, the new addresses would allow outsiders to email us and the mail would appear in our inboxes as a blip (albeit a large one like the one I'm typing now). And we could send a long blip to a non-Wave address and have it delivered via the SMTP extension. This makes a lot of sense to me. I hope they enable it quite soon, it would make it possible for a user to move entirely from email to Wave.

What other thoughts occur to you guys about the email 'mode'. I think the entire approach of wave is very clever, that a single system can be used in so many different ways. A real breakthrough. And it is probably going to be one of those disruptive innovations that we'll all take for granted in the end. A real brainwave on Google's part to make it both open and extensible and to offer their own client and server code free to everyone to run on their own hardware as well.

One other observation. When I created this wave I just closed the box that lets you select contacts for the wave. So I'm alone in this blip as I type it. When it's finished I'll drag in the contacts I want to send it to. That makes it feel even more email-like.

And I used the first blip as the title with this large, second one as the body. It works well like this.

What do you guys think?


PS - For fun I cut and pasted my email footer below. Then I added my wave address and made my mail address into a link. It seems so 'normal' like that. And anyone could add a wave address to a real email footer so wavers could click it. Excellent.

PPS - I just found a typo and fixed it - and then added this PPS. You can't do THAT in email!

'Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.' - Winston Churchill (http://quote.scilla.org.uk)

Chris Jefferies (St Neots, UK)
Wave: chris.jefferies@googlewave.com
E-mail: chris@scilla.org.uk
Web: http://chris.scilla.org.uk/

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