Google Wave – The Next Wave of Social Media?

Google has recently announced their new product, Google Wave.
Table of contents:

1. What is Google Wave

2. Conversations

3. Social Media

4. Open API

5. Developing using Java or Python

6. Embedding into websites

7. Potential Downsides to Google Wave

8. Links to other Google Wave Resources

So what is it exactly?

Google Wave is supported to replace traditional email systems and improve them by using more interactive, live, on-the-fly methods to deliver information. Traditional emails work on a basis of typing a message, potentially styling the message, and hitting "send" and off it goes to the recipient. Traditional instant messaging systems work by typing a message, hitting enter and automatically sending to the recipient for instant delivery. Wave offers a hybrid of the two. If both people are logged on, they can open a conversation (called a wave) and send a message to the recipient which will not only instantly send to the recipient, but the recipient can (optionally) see every letter when you type it and write back instantaneously. This speeds up conversation drastically instead of having to wait for others to reply to press enter to start writing your response. Given that the recipient is offline, they will receive the wave in their inbox in bolded.

Uh, so it's very similar to MSN Messenger mixed with Gmail. Messenger offers the "offline message delivery" if the recipient is offline. However, to send something longer you have to go through the process of sending them an email. Lets face it, in a real life conversation, there's no difference between small talk and in-depth conversations, and there should not be a void in the length of an IM conversation. Wave combines the two.

Conversations

Gmail already offers "conversations", making replying to emails easier to keep track of where the conversation is, like a message board. Wave allows you to reply exclusively to certain parts of the email, making the response clearer and precise to which part they're talking about. How many times has someone said something, you start answering, and do they have a new message prepared so it appears that you reply to the wrong message? The confusion will be gone. Also, email is difficult to attach another person to the conversation. Wave solves this by simply allowing you to add a person, and they can (optionally) see the entire Wave (or restricted bits that you choose) and they even have a "playback" function which will allow them to see the order of messages posted as a video to make it easier for them to reply.

Social Media

Unfortunately social media clips into our morning routines to have to check our Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, Last.FM, Behance, Flickr, Message Boards, Hotmail, Gmail, RSS, Analytics, Blog comments etc … every single day. Services like Friendfeed have attempted to unify the sites into a single service to check all your updates; but is lacking the full-functionality that nearly every one of those sites offers. Wave offers an API that can be embedded into such services so they can be allowed to be added to the wave, unifying them all into one screen. Luckily, Wave is open source, so community contributions to the API can make extensions to be much more powerful and be competitive with the features they offer and could potentially replicate or extend to the original site (like what Hootsuite did for Twitter!). How the services will choose to do this, I do not know.

Open API

The most glorious part of Wave to most people is it's API, which can be incorporated or embedded into any website. You can develop API extensions, or simply use the extensions to plug in to your own website (like a wordpress plugin). Featured in the Google Wave video (shown above), they demonstrate even posting comments and information to the blog through a Wave. Wow. The power of this to comments to blog posts, receive replies like you would an email or IM message, and reply makes the web more centralized and communicative.

Development

You can develop API extensions using either the Java (tutorial) or Python libraries. Given that you're a developer, you can download the Java library extension for Wave extensions here, or read the Python documentation as the library has not been released:
1. Wave Robot Java Client Library Download
2. Python Google Wave Documentation

Embedding

Putting Wave apps onto your site sure will be interesting to see how it works for full featured functionality. The Google Wave Tutorial for embedding gives us an idea.
1. Embed the Javascript (Download here)

2. The Wave API will always belong in a specified DIV called "waveframe"

3. Add the initializing function to start Wave, like jQuery's $ (document) .ready

function initialize () {

var wavePanel = new WavePanel (' http://wave.google.com/a/wavesandbox.com/ ');

wavePanel.loadWave ('wavesandbox.com! w + waveID');

wavePanel.init (document.getElementById ('waveframe'));

4. That's all that has really been released so far for embedding, but Google stated that by adding public@a.gwave.com to the participant conversation will allow the Wave to display publicly. How we will add a participant, we do not yet know.

Downsides To Google Wave

1. Google is taking over the world
Evidently Google is taking over everything. In fact, Google can track spreading diseases based on search terms faster than Health Research Facilities can. The main concern people question is the confidentiality of the information. All the info sets on a Google server. Given that this is plugged into your Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, Blog, etc, Google will have taken one of the most significant steps to owning saved copies of almost everything published on the internet. And given that one uses Wave on their Blackberry or smart phone, Google will know everywhere you are.

2. Google is taking over the world
Yes, this needs to be said twice.

3. The Walmart Effect
Most Social Media sites work by providing advertising to make profits. The problem like services with Wave, is that if people exclusively use it, the advertising on the actual homepage of the service will get less traffic, giving them less money to support and maintain the site. Without Google has a solution for the companies to embed advertising into the Wave extension, they may be doomed to having significantly less profits, making these services become unavailable and decreasing company profits and increasing Google's profits.

4. People may be lazier at typing
Wave offers a "Natural Language Processing" function that allows users to select properly-spelled words if they look incorrect. If it really is as easy as it looks to be, it can degrade (some) people's natural reflex of correcting their spelling. Conversely, some may say the same about autocomplete or Google's "Did you mean?" box in searches.