Google Wave

So, the latest buzz on the web is all about Google Wave. I would urge everyone developing stuff for the Internet and technological people depending on the Internet for their daily work, to watch that introductory video. The concept is frankly mind-blowing. If this is done right and embraced by all the right people, Google Wave could be the new platform concept that could be used to create new generation of email, instant messaging, collaboration software (CMS, wiki, Sharepoint, workflow, ...), blogging software and forum software and do all that while integrating back with current technologies, like Twitter and RSS feeds.

It remains to be seen what parts will be open source and federated and what parts will remain Google-only services. For example, I am convinced that Spelly the spellchecker bot and Rozy the automatic translation bot will be hard to impossible to federate. This being Google, it is practically a given that the code will be good, but a bit hard to understand and contribute to. Management of the free software community and proprietary community relations will likely be the key to the success of this technology.

I love the technology itself - imagine that you have a web blog. The blog software makes each your blog post a wave. When people leave comments on the post, these comments show up in your 'email' inbox. You can reply to people right from there. By default your replies will show up on your blog and also show up in the email inboxes of the commenter, but you also have the option to mark your reply private and only send it to the commenter. Also it looks to be possible to choose to host all the data yourself or to make Google host all your blog and comment data and make your blog just be a frame where this data is displayed in, possibly allowing you to use very, very minimal system resources to maintain the blog even in a case of Slashdotting. I hate blogs without comments, let's replace them all.

I would also love to see replacements to Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Sharepoint be built using Wave technology with a full support to ODF if possible. Imagine collaborative document editing in OpenOffice using this technology in the backend. It would be one huge project, but it should be possible. Companies currently pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up MS Exchange+Sharepoint+Active Directory to be able to simply share documents in their Intranet and see who edited a document (no live editing, no change tracking). It is possible to make a much better product with ODF and Google Wave and it is possible to earn a bunch of money supporting such a product for companies that need support contracts. If it would be possible to licence spellchecking and translation services from Google in a way where a box is installed in customers data centre and the data to be spellchecked and translated never leaves that data centre, then I believe that people would be willing to pay for this superior spellchecking and translation experience.

We need open source products that people can depend on. We also need ways for business people to sell services with an easily visible added value so that they can make money and contribute their developer work hours back to the open source projects. We (the free software community) have great ways to get a positive feedback loop with users that can develop software, but when our users have no interest in developing anything, the feedback loop breaks and free software growth slows down. There is a lot of untapped potential in this area - we just need to find a way to convert needs and demands of non-developers into code.

I'm gonna stop this rant before it diverges even further off topic, but the main point is - go watch the Google Wave demo, read the tech specs and think how you could integrate that into your free software project.

Useful wave discussions (will update as I find more):