Den of Antiquity

Dusting off old ideas and passing them off as new.

Google Wave

Everyone seems to have an opinion on this one.  Now that Google Wave has been put in the can, its getting some revived press.  I’ve never understood the mysticism assigned to it.  It seems rather straightforward to me.  Its just a collaborative document edting system.  Conceptually you could think of it as just another wiki.


  •  Users can edit it, including editing what the previous users added.
  •  history is kept and can be inspected through the UI

  It adds a realtime editing feature, where you can see others making changes to the document live.  Whether thats an important feature or not is left in the open.  The realtime editing is nice, but I’ve rarely seen it helpful in online collaboration.  Besides I don’t think thats part of the design of their protocol, its just a feature of their front-end implementation.

  The one situation it has been helpful is when you’re
  •  working on a specific document, like a requirmenets doc,
  •  with other people,
  •  who your in other realtime communication with, such as over chat, voice or in person.

  Notification or “adding people” to the wave, is no different from getting email notifications when someone edits a wiki page your following or have previously edited.


  • The documents are like “threads”.
  • You get notified of additions/changes to the thread.

  Its good replacement for long threads.  Long meandering threads would quickly get policed back onto track.  Because of the constant presence of the full history, and the editable nature of the full thread.  But again, this is the case for any wiki.

  In the spirit of email, the backend presents it as a decentralized repository.  Allowing integration and distribution with other repos.  Thats a new concept for online collaboration systems, but it never branched out for them. With Google as the only provider.


  Its not a chat system.  I never understood this comparison.  That would be too random, off-topic, long term.  It would quickly become more of a ‘history’ of the chat, than an actual chat.  And keeping it on topic without constant editing of all the history would be impossible.


I did think it was a good idea.  I love wiki’s, online collaboration, and collective intelligence of any kind.  Perhaps, if they had provided some of the other front-ends instead of their complicated “wave” UI, it would have seen more wide-spread use.
  • receive updates as regular emails, possibly containing context as a ‘fake threaed’
  • reply with reponses that get inserted appropriately back into the document.
  • static html of each wave
  • editing the document in a normal wiki fashion.