Does Google Wave leapfrogs the real-time web?

I proposed a talk for Reboot this year. It accumulates my feelings on a emerging trend on impulse shaped services. In the period heading to the conference I’ll try to connect findings on this topic from others if I ran into them.

Today it was all over the place; the news of the introduction of Google Wave. It is not possible to try it by yourself unless you’re in the developer mode, but the descriptions are very detailed, for instance the Complete Guide on Mashable. Reading this it seems Google has taken a serious step to embrace and reinvent the real-time impulse based online experience we’re growing in. It is however also a overwhelming approach that will need real smartness to make it usable.

Studying the details in the complete guide you can see Google tries to rethink communication inspired on the explosion of the real-time experience in tools like Facebook and especially Twitter. They understand that the conversation becomes the driving force of our services. And they understand that a simple stream of a conversation will not hold up if the conversations and the number of people in the community grows.

In Wave Google introduces a form of conversation where groups and relevance of context plays an important role. The conversation thread is an important structural element. In contrary to the old forum the impulses in the conversations are the anchor points in the user experience.

By mixing the real-time conversation with the collaborative closed group sharing Google Wave seems to be a solution for the layered communication we will grow into. And Google has the chance to use its knowledge of relevance to create a smart impulse filter for intuitive conversations.

Another very interesting aspect that seems to emerge is the exploding way services of organizations will be part of the conversations. The three layers of embedding (gadgets, robots and embeds) will lead to a whole new way services will be part of (closed) communities. Just as I stated in my last years Reboot presentation, this is the ultimo challenge for business: be part of the virtual gated communities that will emerge.

Of course I haven’t used Google Wave yet so the service still has to proof itself. The mix of a lot of new models and mix of all the functions can result in a service with a steep learning curve. On the other hand Google has proven before to be capable of building intuitive user experiences.
In that case I think there is a possibility that Google leapfrogs the real-time web and introduces for the second time a dominant new hub in the use of the internet, with even the potential to overrun search.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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