What is the next Wave?

Google Wave - a chance for us to rethink Social Media?
Google Wave - a chance for us to rethink Social Media?

For some time, I’ve been looking for the next compelling thing in social media sites. For that next development that transforms the way we interact, that re-envisions forums, chat, photo galleries, articles, etc; in fact a redefinition of the way in which we communicate online altogether.

For the past couple years, I’ve watch as vBulletin, my favorite forum software, basically did minor incremental releases, remaining essentially the way it was in 2001.  Wordpress has done better, yet still, the fundamental blog/cmslite experience remains pretty much as it was 4 years ago.  Photo gallery software, chat, etc. all remain pretty much as they were when they burst on the scene.

The user experience on most sites now is very segmented.  Comments are in one spot, while forum posts over here.  Most sites  don’t integrate chat, as it tends to remove us from the page view model on which our revenue streams are so often based.

We’ve patched together separate systems, and in virtually all cases, the seams are showing.  Clear lines of demarcation block logical points of information transfer.  Most of what happens isn’t real time, or anything close to it.  It’s a post then wait and click refresh experience for most of what we do.

That’s the point of entry for Google Wave, the new open source project that launched in private beta today.  It has real time communications, chat has both private/public components, that can take on the threaded view of a forum with real time updates, that can be presented as a forum, or a blog, or whatever you imagine.

You see the important thing here for a developer is that they’ve built the basic tools, but we can add whatever we want via their api.  To demonstrate this, they added Google maps integration.  Yet that bit could be a video, or even better a live video stream or a recorded application view (think Webex presentation), live photo gallery, or all of them.  All of which can be manipulated and edited real time by multiple users.

So what is this Google Wave, really?  It’s opportunity for us to FINALLY break out of the box, to really do something new and different, to for once rethink the way we do our sites.

I can’t wait…

Check out the abridged version of the video from the I/O conference to get a taste of what I’m talking about.

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