Now that the first user invitations to Google Wave have been released, it’s not surprising that blogosphere and twitterverse alike are buzzing once again with comments about Google’s nascent communication system.
As you may guess from the way I just described Wave, I’m not quite clear about exactly what Wave is. (Both a “conversation and a document”? Uh, okay. . . .)
My befuddlement may be a good sign. It’s been my uniform initial reaction to revolutionary technology, from spreadsheets in the early 1980s and the Web in the early 1990s to Twitter a couple of years ago.
Now, it worries me a bit that B2B savant Paul Conley, who once came close to expressing actual enthusiasm about Wave, has apparently given up on it. So at least I conclude from his latest blog post and its fin-de-siècle, nothing-new-under-the-sun lament that the Web 2.0 revolution is over. Okay, maybe Twitter is just a big bore. But doesn’t Wave deserve a brief, hopeful mention?
The clearest picture I’ve gotten of Wave’s revolutionary potential, at least for publishing, has come courtesy of Chicago Sun Times columnist Andy Ihnatko. I find myself going back repeatedly to his first column on Wave [update: no longer accessible] , in which he speculatively describes how it could remake the editorial publishing process. It does not take much of an imaginative leap from his scenarios to see how Wave could either displace or be integrated into many current content management systems.
Will Wave live up to Ihnatko’s hopes for it? Even he is hedging his bets. Several years will no doubt pass before we know how Wave turns out. But it’s worth watching, and may yet revive Paul Conley from his Web 2.0 ennui.