Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wave is not to replace e-mail ... yet

At the Google meeting in Amsterdam, one of the most interesting fact about Wave for me was about Wave and e-mail. While it has always been said that Wave is "how we would build e-mail today", today Wave keeps its distance from e-mail.

Wave presents a different paradigm from e-mail and this paradigm needs to evolve. In order to do so, it needs to keep a distance because otherwise it is particularly the e-mail associated aspects that improve.

Lars and Stephanie explained that in an earlier incarnation, Wave did include much functionality with e-mail in mind but that proved to hinder rather then help the development of the Wave paradigm, so they binned it. Similar functionality may be added later and will probably be added by another party.

This is similar to what we do with MediaWiki, our approach is that Wave provides superior editing while MediaWiki provides superior publishing. Our challenge is to appreciate these different strengths and bring them together. As long as we do not need to touch the MediaWiki functionality, there is the easy upgrade path for Wikipedia that we seek.

Our challenge is to find ways in Wave to leave MediaWiki alone and interface and provide necessary functionality in Wave. Some things are still missing; internationalisation and localisations is crucial not only for the core product but also for the robots. The use of MediaWiki authentication and authorisation, including blocks, is crucial. As crucial is the availability of the Wave code so that we can play with the look and feel, add toolbars and add to the toolbars. The fun thing is that our use case provides the Wave developers with concrete challenges. It has already served to punch holes in some theories and help improve them.

All in all, Wave is awesome and it was wonderful and productive to meet in person.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

15 features in five minutes

A nice video that demonstrate 15 features in five minutes... Well worth it !

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Wave wet dream

I have been asked several times where I see Wave go. The last time I was asked where I see Wave in 5 years time.. not Internet years. What I did was look hard at Wave for what it does, and look at Google for the kind of things it has been doing.

For me, Wave is an environment where the functionality of e-mail, chat, wiki comes together. What we have done in the MediaWikiWave project is provide Wave with a publishing back end. This is something that MediaWiki does really well. I expect that Wave will continue to integrate parts of the puzzle that is computer software and data.

Google is getting into operating systems with its Chrome OS. Add to this Moore's law and in five years time a computer with Chrome OS, with over a terabyte of storage is not a wild idea at all.

When something like a terabyte is used for caching, I can imagine that this cache is maintained by Wave. In this cache you find e-mail, Wavelets, Wiki pages and other information that is of interest to a user. Wave being Wave, will cache this information and updates it in the background. This information will be available on request.

Wave in its architecture allows for multiple servers. It is not necessary to know on what server a particular Wavelet is available. I think that a user is not that interested in any particular server, he is interested in the data being available. Only when the data is manipulated is there a need for immediate feed back to servers or other computers.

I think this is doable. Part of the cache is already there in Google Gears and this makes this vision evolutionary progress.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wave and education

We met at the first class restaurant at the Amsterdam central station and we discussed the potential of Wave in an educational setting. As you can imagine, many issues with Wave were discussed but the question was: "Is Wave ready for an experimental course where educators try to find out if Wave is a tool that makes sense in education".

When Wave is to be used in education, Wave itself will not be the subject and in this experiment it will be. The audience if the experiment will be educators who are interested to learn if the new paradigm that Wave presents is this leap forward. Such an experiment does not necessarily require everything that is needed for students: internationalisation and localisation can be left for later, it will be easy to find the necessary Wave invites. Functionality that makes sense in an educational setting like new content that is triggered either by the teacher of by conditions can be left for later as well.

We need to learn if Wave adds value. When it does and, we believe it will, the other open issues will need to be addressed as well. First we have to learn if Wave can enthuse educators.