Google making waves with new communication tool

By John Bowman, CBCNews.ca

What would communication on the internet look like if you threw away what we currently have and started from scratch? That's the question Google is trying to answer with an upcoming service called Google Wave. And the answer looks very interesting.

Brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the Australian creators of Google Maps, looked at the internet's current most popular mediums — email and instant messaging — and saw analogs to older formats: letters and telephone calls.

Lars writes on the Google blog:

Since then, so many different forms of communication had been invented — blogs, wikis, collaborative documents, etc. — and computers and networks had dramatically improved. So Jens proposed a new communications model that presumed all these advances as a starting point, and I was immediately sold.

In short, a "wave" blurs the lines between email, chat and blog post, between sending a file and collaborating on a document. Instead of replying to an email, you can make your own edits to the original message, answering questions and linking to web pages, without any confusion about who wrote what.

If two or more people are in a wave at the same time, they can watch the changes happen keystroke-by-keystroke, so the email the becomes a sort of chat. The conversation becomes a collaborative document, like a wiki article, created by everyone added to the wave.

Google Wave is also open source, so outside developers can make additions to the service. There's already one incorporating Twitter, called, naturally, Twave.

Google Wave is launching to the public later this year.

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(Is it a coincidence that "wave" was the fictional future communication medium on Firefly?)