Google’s Wave: How email would look if it was invented now

Who else but Google would try to re-invent email? If you’re using Twitter you would have noticed that Google’s new innovation, called Wave, has been a trending topic for a what is forever in Twitter-time (a few days to you and me). After watching Google’s keynote presentation a couple of months ago, I was none the wiser – it was too long and I drif… hey, look, there’s a squirrel outside! Anyway, here’s something that lasts for a couple of minutes that will explain all for those in a hurry.

I like the idea of Wave. I’ve found that social networks like Twitter and Facebook offer lots of things that email no longer does. The notion of a public conversation clearly isn’t appropriate for all matters, and email is so embedded in many of our working practices that it will take a while to overhaul, but being able to collect and then replay conversations sounds fantastic, almost like twisting time itself. The subtle change in the interface that’s important: we’ve been able to track messages over time for a while, but using the slider bar means that you can see conversations evolve. I haven’t an invitation yet – it’s invite only – but I look forward to learning more when it’s made public. I’m especially interested how it might encourage learners to collaborate.

What this represents more broadly is another way in which we are using new forms of communication. Not just revisions to existing forms, but new ways of speaking to and reaching out to one another. And as Clay Shirky tells us wisely, when we change the way we communicate, we change society.

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