Amidst a great many other topics, HTML 5 has been on my mind the past couple of weeks. It started on Tuesday, May 26th, with Kevin Yank posting HTML 5 : Now or Never? on the SitePoint blog. He was floating the question of whether or not they should look into publishing a book on HTML 5 now, or if they need to wait until it matures enough for developers to use with confidence. If you read his post, and especially if you look over the comments, you will see that there is a full range of opinions (including that HTML 5 should never be implemented) by developers about the topic.
This remained a relatively minor, background issue until two days later, Thursday, May 28th. On that day Google announce the existence of a new project called Google Wave. My initial thought was that Google was simply creating their version of a FaceBook/Twitter/Blogging style platform. The more I looked, the more I realized that this was much different, and much more important, than a differently branded service. Wave is something that has the potential to change many, many aspects of how we use the internet.
What is Google Wave? I have spent a good part of last week trying to distill it into a couple of paragraphs, and am not having much success. The overall essence of it is something that I haven’t yet wrapped my head around, but here are a few aspects of it that will hopefully illustrate some of it:
It is a communication platform that allows users to send, receive, and use a variety of information (think communications like e-mails, IM, tweets, feeds, etc.) in a way that offers greater control, speed, and usability. Messaging becomes “real-time”, with your keystrokes being sent live to the person you are communcating with (unless you select to hold the message until you are ready). The effect of this is that it becomes possible to hold a real-time conversation with others utilizing a variety of communication forms simultaneously. You can incorporate text, images, documents, and other digital formats into the conversation in a free-flowing manner that saves time, effort and reduces confusion.
To quote from the introduction to an interview, “Email is asynchronous conversation. Instant messaging, by contrast, is synchronous. Wave is both.“ Possibly the best general description of Wave could be that it lets users and groups easily communicate and collaborate in one interface, using whatever editing/communication/collaboration techniques fit the task at hand. Think of it as a collaboration mash-up tool.
A few places to find further info:
- Went Walkabout : Brought Back Google Wave. (Google Blog)
- Google Wave Drips with Ambition. (TechCrunch)
- Video Interview with the Google Wave Founders (TechCrunch)
- Live with the Google Wave Creators (TechCrunch)
- Sergey Brin : Google Wave Will Set a New Benchmark for Interactivity (TechCrunch)
- Google I/O A Real Eye-Opener (SitePoint)
Watch for the technological shift from these developments. This will not only give us new and improved tools to perform tasks and work together (think of the possibilities for online meetings and conferencing), but will set standards for what will be expected from web presences. Our OPACS may have some new goals to aim for.
Note added later: I have had a busy week, and forgot to actually address the relationship between HTML 5 and Google Wave. I do so in another post, Why HTML 5. Apologies for not getting it right the first time!