Google Wave is dead, long live Wave
Is the end of Google Wave the end of a new kind of communication, or just the end of the beginning?
A little over a year ago I blogged on the new phenomenon that was Google Wave. During that year we saw it gain popularity and all manner of extensions, plugins and desktop applications like Waveboard. As a company we used (and still use) it to write collaborative documents. Sadly, though, Wave would never reach its potential before Google decided to pull the plug on it.
On the face of it Wave was an obvious development - we all send messages around the world by various means, email, IM, forum, wiki, blog - so what we needed was a way to tie it all together - wasn't it? Well maybe, but the crucial thing that needed to happen didn't - at least not in time. Wave never saw its tentacles extend fully into the systems that we all know and already use, meaning that you had to convert yourself over to Wave in order to use it.
Another drawback was that there was no way yet (although it was promised for the future) to really use your own Wave server and have it hook into a larger Wave "cloud". That and the overall complexity of the Google interface seems to have resulted in Wave's premature death.
The odd thing now is that out of the ashes of Wave comes, yes, Wave. Google recently announced "Wave-in-a-box" which is ostensibly giving wave to the Open Source community so that in time everyone could host their own Wave server. This could be the best thing that happened to it. The Open Source community already manages development of the world's most popular web server - Apache, the most often recommended browser - Firefox, and provides free alternatives to commercial software in just about every sector.
The Google implementation of Wave was arguably too different and radical, too ahead of its time, but if the Open Source community can build on this basis in a modular way then, in time, Wave could still become the foundation of a new way of sending messages, an all-encompassing, open, distributed system that represents as much of a step forward as email has been over the last 20 or more years.