The tech industry is often an all-or-nothing crowd, where entire concepts are expected to live or die with a given product's success or failure. And looking too closely at Wave, at least through the eyes of those who have actually used it, will reveal a complex and contradictory set of opinions and observations:
- Sam Diaz over ZDNet sees Wave as a potential tool to help alleviate overloaded email inboxes and to route important messages in a way that makes them more prominent to the intended recipients. (And what happens when everyone -- or at least PR and sales people -- route everything as top priority, as happens all too often in email?)
- Robert Scoble seems to find Wave to be even less productive than email. He does admit the possibility of someone using the API to create a "breakthrough idea", but until then, "for most of you Google Wave will just turn your collaborative life unproductive." (Less productive than email? Ouch.)
- Preston Gralla at Computerworld says that it seems to have potential, but it's unclear how useful it might be in the real world.
- Mike Keller seemed uncomfortable coming down pro or con because "it is still clearly a work in progress." (Perhaps the wisest summation.)
That's what makes Wave important, because it's one of the first challenges to the hegemony of the expected. It's what makes Mozilla's Raindrop important as another experiment in making software "people-centric both in how we process messages, and in how we can help give people control over their personal data and experiences," by automating some tasks like channeling and gathering different types of messages as well as integrating various types of media. It's a direction that virtually every company involved in communications of any form -- meanings virtually any technology company -- will have to explore if they don't want to find themselves obsolete.
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