Online Communication’s New Concept


Techies, professionals and IM junkies alike are talking about Google Wave, soliciting invites from friends and co-workers and brainstorming on ways to make the service better. While the potential business applications are numerous, the service developed by the internet powerhouse still has plenty of kinks to work out.

But that isn’t what’s truly notable about Wave; what will really give the service the legs it needs to survive the hundreds of changes it’s likely to incur over the beta period is, in essence, conceptual—namely, Wave’s unique approach to real-time communication.

If you haven’t seen the hype, let’s catch you up on what Wave is. Google has developed a new communication platform that leverages email, instant messaging, document collaboration and browser functionality in real-time and makes the resulting “wave” accessible from a single window. Drag-and-drop contacts, extensions and robots into a conversation. Live contacts can replay any parts of the Wave they missed or edit any portion of the Wave, with changes highlighted for users who aren’t signed on.

There’s a whole lot more functionality than that, but that’s a general overview. For non-professional applications, Wave is a gag—until you accidentally drag-and-drop your dad into a personal conversation with your significant other.

Privacy issues aside, the service does stand on its own, especially in a professional context. But as many communications and tech professionals (like this guy <> ) have pointed out, the kinks need to be worked out or it won’t fly.

Now, the concept that makes Google Wave’s beta period a necessary evil. It’s a very simple, overlooked cliché these days, but it rings true now more than ever: think before you speak.

Think about it. In the technology age, it’s become pretty common place to mindlessly respond to messages from friends, family and co-workers, especially in the context of an instant message conversation. You can see that your BFF is typing, but you can’t see what they’re saying until they hit “send.”

Ah, but now Google Wave reports exactly what you’re typing exactly when you’re typing it (loosely in these early stages, but effectively enough). Annoying, right? I know it makes me feel more self-conscious. But have some patience. Practice self control. You can respond in due time. Just put a little thought into your message before you spew out whatever comes to the tip of your tongue.

Outspoken critics of online communication and its “dumbing down” of language are sure to love Google Wave. Just think: if you and the person you’re communicating with put an extra 30 seconds of thought into each message, the benefits of a richer and more intelligent world of communication will open up to you.

Thankfully, you didn’t have to watch me write this post in real-time. There’s still plenty of room for blogs in cyber-communication.

Mark Sherbin



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