The web has been abuzz with the controlled beta release of the new Google Wave. Google answer to "How would email be designed today". Well the first time I saw, Vic Gundotra present the live demo a few months ago at "Google IO 2009", he said that they were unveiling a "personal communication and collaboration" tool.
Well at that time, they defined the wave as equal parts of conversation and document. It's a system that allows people to communicate and work together with rich-text, photos, videos, maps, and more in one dashboard. Also anything on a "wave" is shared as long as you invite another person into the wave. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. The playback feature allows anyone joining into the wave at anytime to rewind the wave to see who said what and when. A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.
Then I saw this video and saw that it explained best, the way Google wave works and why it is different from email.
At the end of the day, my take is that Google wave is a cool tool but will be more disruptive than productive, because not everyone is tuned to work in that manner. The human mind cannot handle realtime communication all the time. The human mind requires people to spend some time together with others, to plan and collaborate, then go off and find some independent time to use their creative juices to put together or build new things. This wave seems like a communication overload to me, where the simplest of things/issues will rise to the top due to the fact that it appears the latest in the thread or wave. People personalities and idiosyncracies will be amplified and in your face at all times. I am sure you have experienced those personalities who love to hear their own voice at meetings and end up disrupting productive meetings. Well let me tell you that Google wave will give an opportunity for those personality types to constantly tout their horn and constantly bring up mediocre issues.
I do understand the Google Wave tries to solve one major problem with email and this is that, not everyone has a full view of the conversation. The single dashboard view for all, regardless of when the join in the conversation and the ability to playback is huge. This should alleviate some of the problems that email has. The reply-all is dreaded because it allows people to just jump in with irrelevant comments and change the trajectory of the original conversation. The second issue is the forwarding of an email thread to someone who jumps into a conversation a bit late and is not privy to what has happened earlier and again changes the trajectory of the conversation inadvertently. Google wave might alleviate some of these issues with the playback feature and the fact that everyone in the wave has the same dashboard view.
I personally don't have an invite as yet and will reserve to change my opinions for later, but however given what is being shown, I can only think of the negative effects of the wave. It seems that "Google wave" will become the "Tsunami of twaddle".