Tim O'Reilly has a post up today about Google Wave, the new project-in-development by Jens and Lars Rasmussen, the primary creators of Google Maps. According to O'Reilly, Lars describes the project in this way: "We set out to answer the question: What would email look like if we set out to invent it today?" O’Reilly continues,
In answering the question, Jens, Lars, and team re-imagined email and instant-messaging in a connected world, a world in which messages no longer need to be sent from one place to another, but could become a conversation in the cloud. Effectively, a message (a wave) is a shared communications space with elements drawn from email, instant messaging, social networking, and even wikis.
It’s obvious that O'Reilly is pretty chuffed about Google Wave. He thinks it’s great that in Wave “conversations become shared documents.” “I love the way Wave doesn't just build on what went before but starts over. In demonstrating the power of the shared, real-time information space, Jens and Lars show a keen understanding of how the cloud changes applications.” Okay. I guess Wave could be pretty interesting, though to me it doesn't seem as game-changing and world-changing as O’Reilly and the Rasmussens claim. But we’ll see how it works out. My larger concern is this: O’Reilly is among the leaders of a group of technophiles and technocrats whose one concern with every information technology is: How can this be more social? The primary purpose of Wave seems to be to make communications networks more extensive, to create more and more and more nodes. But there are other things that communications can do than generate more points of intersection. I tend to think that among email, IM, Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, shared bookmarks on Delicious, shared RSS feeds on Google Reader, and [insert your favorite social technology here] we already have enough nodes. We already have enough shared information. Instead of asking how our existing information technologies can do more and more of what they already do well, why don't we ask what they’re not doing well — or at all?