Google Wave: Revolutionizing Communication or Reinventing the Wheel?

June 24th, 2010 by Search Influence Alumni

So it’s been about nine months since Google unveiled one of their latest- and largest- endeavors: Wave. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with Google’s global takeover, Wave is a real-time communication platform that has the potential to completely revolutionize or even replace standard email. It rolled live on September 30 of last year and I was lucky enough to stumble upon an invite, so I’ll share my findings with you here.

Google Wave combines email, instant messaging, and social networking into one, easy to use interface. You can create waves with one person or your entire contact list, so conference chats and meetings with business partners or employees becomes incredibly easy. All waves can be viewed in real time and you can respond to previous entries much like a forum. This can be both a good and bad thing. I’m sure I’m not the only person who types out a response and then goes back to edit or erase it altogether before hitting “Send.” I’m not sure I want other people to view what I write in real-time. Also, the forum-like interface can lead to cluttered and convoluted waves. Some of this can be avoided with the playback button, which replays the entire history of the wave. A collapse function could also improve this shortcoming.

Another cool feature is that anyone can edit previous entries to correct false information. This is another one of those bittersweet functions that can be considered both a pro and a con. You can also invite other people at anytime during the wave.  Don’t want them seeing the previous conversation? No problem. Anybody invited can be set to only view limited info.

One major pro is that it makes attachments a thing of the past.  Anything you want shared can just be dragged and dropped into the conversation and it shows up in the wave for everyone to view or download.  Also, any wave can be instantly embedded onto your blog or website. These are two functions that email doesn’t have and can only be viewed as pros in my mind.

In terms of what it can offer SEO, it’s lacking… for now. One of the best things about Wave is that it’s open source.  This leaves the door open for nearly limitless SEO possibilities.

In summary, Google Wave is a pretty great idea. However, sometimes it seems like reinventing the wheel. Most of the features it offers can be found with email, chat, or even Google Docs. The draw is that it combines these three into one fairly easy to use interface. It can seem unnecessarily complicated at times, but you quickly get used to it. I think the largest downfall is that not enough people use it yet, but even email and instant messaging were once seen as novelties. I think with enough time and improvements, Google Wave is the only contender that could possibly replace them in the future.

Special thanks to Lovati and Juergenfenn for the great images!