The Quantum Pontiff

Google Wave

Catch the wave. Long but worth watching:I suspect that collaboration will never be the same after the wave.

Another observation is about gadgets and iphone apps. One beauty of iphone apps is how easy it is to write one. This has always been true of many gadgets (like gadgets for google’s homepage.) But the later has always suffered, it seems to, in a lack of functionality. I think wave might push this problem in a very positive direction (see for example the yes/no/maybe widget.) Further having things server side is also allows for a sort of gadgetology with a large amount of power, which I really like.


  1. #1 Joe Fitzsimons
    May 30, 2009

    I love the demo. I would really like to see gadgets for latex compilation and for tablet input, but if it had both of those, it would be a fantastic tool for scientific collaboration.

  2. #2 Gregg L. DesElms
    June 2, 2009

    Thinking of Wave in terms of “replacing” such as GMAIL (or even email, itself) is just silly. Not every Internet communication needs to be (or even should be) as would be in Wave. Traditional email, at the very least, should (and likely will) never go away. Of this, I think there should be little fear or doubt.

    Now, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a place — and a potent one, indeed — in our lives for such as Wave and its ineluctable variants. It, too, will be useful, under the right circumstances. In fact, from my admittedly only-cursory analysis of it to date, I’m thinking that what actually MAY be “replaced” by Wave, as a practical matter, is traditional “chat,” as we now know it (though traditional chat, mark my words, will continue to be around for years and years, too, no matter how good Wave ultimately gets).

    Regardless, one thing about which we should all be clear in our minds is that we’re not talking about the mere replacing of anything, here. Wave, for better or worse, seems very nearly of the nature of paradigm shift… and far be it from me to suggest that that’s, necessarily, a bad thing, here.

    It does, however, come with pitfalls about which we should all be watchful, if not actually downright concerned. For example, though it’s now coming out in articles (and/or rebuttals to such as I am posting here) that it’s likely to be user-configurable, initial writings about Wave touted the ability (and represented it as essential to Wave’s very way of operating) of all persons in a “wave” (or a thread) to be able to see, in real time, all others’ keystrokes, as they type.

    Let me repeat the salient words of that, here: AS. THEY. TYPE.

    Think about that, please, for just a moment. It’s a far larger problem than, perhaps, it initially seems. Like how sausage is made (or, as some joke, like how laws are passed), some things in life may better be left something of a mystery to those who ultimately consume (or are regulated by) them; and, most importantly, solely at the creator’s option.

    The ultimate impact and meaning to the reader of anything written would be inordinately influenced by said reader’s having been a witness to its creation. If one is a thoughtful writer who doesn’t just blurt out every wayward thing which flits through one’s brain, then one is going to pause to think while one types, and back-up and delete and re-type, and whatever else behind-the-scenes activity goes into what ends-up being the finished written product. If the reader were able to witness what the writer merely paused before writing; or actually did write, but then thought better of and either removed or changed to something else, then the bell of what the reader saw along the way cannot be un-rung; and the reader’s ultimate interpretation and understanding of the final written result will be indelibly affected in ways (even if not immediately obvious) more likely than not to be inherently bad for all concerned.

    Now, if it’s true, as some who challenge such as my assertions, here, are now saying, that the ability of others to view one’s keystrokes as one makes them is (or at least will be) user-configurable in the version of Wave which is finally released to the end-user wild, then my concern, at least on this particular privacy-related point, is happily ameliorated.

    However, of larger philosophical concern to me is that the creators of Wave apparently believed, even if only briefly, that something as basic as this issue would not be important. What, then (if anything), does that mean we should also be wary of in the realm of personal privacy protections, just generally, for users of this new and groundbreaking product? For what else should we be watching which may, ultimately, negatively impact us because of fundamental, and at least initially seemingly harmless, privacy encroachments…

    …encroachments which may not even be recognizable as encroachments to Wave’s creators because, perhaps, of their nationality and upbringing (nothing negative, mind you, intended by that wording, I assure).

    One potentially troubling impact (at least from the standpoint of Americans, in my opinion) of globalization (which, incidentaly, I’m not fundamentally against, despite how what I’m about to write may make it seem) is how the sensibilities of those non-Americans who create things which all others on the planet end-up using can unintentionally contravene that which Americans hold perhaps nearer and dearer to their hearts than do non-American others. Those who grew up and still live in countries where such things as privacy and freedom of speech are not as absolute and paramount as in the US may or may not necessarily value such rights to the same degree as do Americans; and it sometimes shows in their work.

    It has not escaped my notice that the two brothers — brilliant though they are — who created and continue to develop Wave were neither born and raised in, nor now live in, the US… and so I fear (and I may be completely wrong about this, I realize… but absent, at this point, any reason not to, I am nevertheless fearing that they) may not place as much of a premium on the notion of absolute privacy (if desired by the end-user of Wave) as do Americans.

    Or, who knows, maybe they do. I don’t know them, and it’s unfair of me to presume, I suppose (or even to suppose, I presume). One way or the other, though, it should be at least a concern to all that the default behavior of Wave seems so inherently and joltingly privacy-denuding.

    So, then, again, begged is the question: Of what else (if anything), in Wave, should we who hold inviolate our privacy be wary?

    To appeal to (at least thinking) Americans, the makers of Wave need to take steps to ensure that if the end-user wants to protect his/her absolute privacy while using this admittedly exciting and paradigm-shifting new product, it can, via easy configuration settings, be satisfactorily and incontrovertibly achieved at all possible levels, and in all possible ways. Moreover, as it is developed, the makers of Wave might need to realize that they may, because of their nationality and upbringing, not necessarily even recognize what all of those levels and ways might be; and the Americans (or even the non-Americans who at least fully grasp the American viewpoint regarding all this) who work on the development of Wave should ensure that no privacy holes such as I’m discussing here remain anywhere in it when it’s finally and fully released into the end-user wild.

    Or so it is my opinion… my two cents worth, as it were…

    …which my ex-wife, for example, among others, has been known to quickly attest tends to be about all it’s usually worth.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California