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This is silly, it doesn't account for the many, many axes of communication.

* Push vs. Pull. Does the recipient have to ask to get incoming messages.

* Off the cuff vs. Official. How quickly is the communication written, how much thought goes into formal language & proofreading.

* Personal vs. Notification (this is a big problem for communication). Regular mail has fallen to this, 99% of mail is automated messages, both wanted and unwanted. Email is going the same direction. Phone never has moved very far that direction.

* Filtered vs. Raw. Computer filtered, or human filtered. Spam, autocategorization, etc.

And then it adds document problems to it:

* Collaborative vs. Sign off. Am I co-writing the document with somebody or is it a write-revise-signoff cycle?

* Controlled vs. AdHoc. How formal does the collaboration need to be. Does it make sense for us to both be editing things, or is internal consistency too important to allow concurrent edits?

Basically, just saying "screw email, it's a chat! With Widgets!" totally ignores what people use communication services for, and the varying levels of formality, proofreading, speed, style, and automation.

A quick rundown of communication protocols that exist:

Email: Delayed, Push for the most part, Filtered, lots of notifications

IM: Instant, Push, Raw, few notifications

Blog: Delayed, Pull, Filtered (RSS reader, you decide what to read), few notifications.

Waves: Instant, Push (?), Raw, notifications... maybe?

Basically, it fits in the IM category for the most part. Why would this replace my email to the boss containing a page of pros vs. cons on a new technology that we were going to adopt? Would this replace the automated quarterly emails from HR showing me my 401k balance (and does it do the job any better?).


Very technologically cool, but I have no idea how it fits well into the framework of communication types, and adds anything that's not covered adequately with current communication methods.

A thought I have had was that twitter flourished because it was a different set of attributes from anything else that existed (along with other things of course).

Tough to say without trying it, but I think this has the potential to be a very flexible format and therefore potentially cover more use cases than you are giving it credit for.

As an example, I wouldn't want to turn writing the page of pros vs. cons to my boss into a big collaborative discussion. But once I write the big long list in draft mode and then send it off, it would probably be great if the boss and the whole team could have a conversation about the document in real-time and at various places in the document. It would sure be more manageable than the big email chains in outlook that I've got now.

What is "flexibility" from a technical point of view is "ambiguity" from a social point of view. Is the conversation real-time or only potentially real-time? IM is a real-time conversation, like two people speaking. E-mail is not. A single protocol and interface for both means people will be constantly confused about each other's intentions. I like the idea of combining and persisting all communications about a single topic, but in the screenshots it looks like all Wave messages look the same. "Draft" mode vs. keystroke mode provides a clue, but what if I don't see the message arrive? What if I have a real-time conversation with somebody, and then five minutes after it ends, one of us posts another message? We have to add some kind of comment indicating whether it is intended as a continuation of the previous conversation, the beginning of a new real-time conversation, or a one-off message (with the sender perhaps not available to chat at the moment.)

Everything that is currently implicit in the mode of communication (email, IM, etc.) and in mode-specific indicators (IM status, etc.) will now have to be communicated explicitly. That seems like a big step backwards. Google Wave will do well if it usefully aggregates many different modes of communication, but if it attempts to unify them then it will be socially unworkable, a total flop.

I don't follow your logic at all. I frequently have essentially real-time conversations via email. If someone steps away the conversation doesn't 'end' it just reverts to a slower pace. Gmail with its conversation-oriented view is already closer to an IM flow than most traditional email clients.

I don't have email interactions or IM interactions, I have conversations. I frequently switch off an email chain to an IM or telephone or even in person. If wave lets me coordinate that all in one interface and let me access the same history and context from multiple locations it will be phenomenally useful for me.

I have real-time conversations via email, too. The difference is in the expectations of the participants. It's subtle and social. I wouldn't just walk away from a fast-running IM conversation to go to lunch without saying something to let the other person know I was going to be gone for a while. That would be rude. Doubly so on the phone. You don't just hang up on somebody in the middle of a conversation unless you're pissed at them. Email is different. Nobody thinks it's weird or rude if you disappear from an email conversation for ten minutes. After sending an email, you can even walk away from your computer and not check your email again for hours, unless the content of your message indicated otherwise.

In contrast, an IM that isn't a one-off message says, "If you're there and available, I would like to have a real-time chat with you." Each mode of communication sets different expectations. It's quite handy. If you unify everything into a single mode of communication, then you have to set expectations explicitly.

"Hi, Joe. Can you tell me XYZ? Please reply when you are available to have an interactive real-time conversation with me."

"Hi, Joe. Can you tell me XYZ? Please reply at your leisure. I may not be available immediately to discuss your reply but will respond at some point if I have further questions."

See the difference? Of course, the different modes of communication don't mean the same things to everybody. I expect every company and every group of friends has a slightly different IM culture, for instance.

Your conversational partners are substantially more polite than mine :)

It's not even remotely uncommon for people in my circle to leave an IM or even a group chat in the middle. We all have dozens of things going on at any given time and it's expected that, unless the conversation is Really Important it will take second fiddle to the emergency of the moment.

So for us all conversations implicitly fit into your second category unless pretty explicitly stated already.

I concede, however, that if your typical behavior doesn't fit this model already wave is likely to be somewhere between useless and actively frustrating.

I think wave is an indicator of something profound about what our computing and networking infrastructure is good for. It's good for us to collaborate on digital content. It's not so good for us to cooperate without that 3rd digital object -- directly with each other. For that to happen, we need to revamp the entire interface, so it's not a total perception and attention sink. We need to be able to interact with the world and other people in the world, and have computing as only a side channel or an augmentation.

Excellent break-down of the usage patterns of Email and IM. One thing that you hint at is persistence. While we all have the ability to log IMs, email exists as much for archival purposes as it does momentary communication.

The simplest way I can put the Email/IM dichotomy is: it is file vs stream.

Good call, that's yet another axis of communication. I actually had all that written down for a blog post I was going to get around to making (with diagrams & graphics and everything).

Something I'd really like to see if a protocol that is designed for notifications to humans. Anywhere from "Your car is ready to be picked up" to "We charged your credit card for this product, for this month of server", etc, etc.

I think if it is built from the ground up as a notification protocol, we can avoid the crap emails that we filter based on regular expressions, and bulk mail, and recorded phone calls.

But, it'd be really hard to get any sort of traction on of course.

I am not sure what you'd want from the notification protocol that persisted XMPP doesn't offer already.

I was just looking at the protocol specification. Its still very much a draft but it is based on XMPP.

Threading. Which is what Wave is trying to offer.

Voila! I give you XMPP + threading:

http://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0201.html (last updated Feb. of last year)

Wave is XMPP, with additional Google extensions for a variety of collaboration features. That is possible because the first letter in XMPP doesn't stand for "XML", it's the (annoying but common) "eXtensible", suggesting that domain-specific additions are not only accepted, they are encouraged.

I'm not sure, it's a random idea based on the idea that most personal communication protocols tend toward being used as notification protocols.

XMPP might be the answer, or maybe dialects on top of XMPP. (haven't looked too close to see what's possible).

please email me, i have a couple ideas i want you and/or somebody to implement regarding notifications ;) aaron.blohowiak@gmail.com

Where's your blog?

The demo video isn't even up yet, and you're already dismissing it for what you think it doesn't take into account? You're my new hero.

Hey now, I'm saying that the claim of a central "THIS IS THE BEST WAY" communication is flawed, because there are lots of ways to communicate.

I based what I wrote on the two articles that got posted to HN, and gave my initial impression.

Except that's not really what you said.

You said "This is silly, it doesn't account for the many, many axes of communication".

Then you listed these axes without explaining how they weren't accounted for.

Then you reduced the product to "screw email, it's a chat! With Widgets!".

Then you listed out a bunch of existing products that actually don't account for all the axes of communication.

And then admitted towards the end of all that that you actually "have no idea how it fits well into the framework of communication types".

All without having ever used the product, or having any exposure to it besides reading two short articles about it.

Meh, not going to argue with you over a product neither of us have ever used. You're right, I took stronger than needed stances, and it's most likely that this will be a very cool technology. I am just pointing out that all-in-one tools don't really solve communication problems, and that there is a ton to consider when talking about how information is presented, stored, and discussed between people.

Didn't RSS readers solve a problem by aggregating disparate streams? Granted, the problem is a lot bigger here. Instead of aggregating/organizing lots of sources using only 2 protocols, you are trying to do the same for many protocols and many models. But I suspect this is why it would be a big win -- the users find this daunting as well!

all-in-one does solve the problem of moving a conversation between all the different and incompatible existing systems. seamless integration is a huge win.

This was the biggest takeaway for me too. It's a way of easily moving data from just about any communication system to just about any other communication system.

Do you think it will really be seamless? That's where almost all of these types of all-in-one deals fail for me. They are completely seamless if you want to play by the rules they set and the interfaces they build. When you want to break out of that mold they're not really so seamless anymore. I know it's an open protocol and blah blah but I'm not sure I want to spend all this time making a screwdriver into a hammer when I already have a perfectly fine hammer.

The demo video isn't even up yet, and some people are already calling it the future of communication. This looks like one of Google's narrow-minded tactic to sideline Bing's news today.

What are you talking about? Google IO is going on, you expected them to just sit around and have a big circle chat about Bing? If anything, Microsoft is trying to sideline Google. Big companies compete for the spotlight, get over it.

Well the demo video is up now and I believe MS's Bing is pale, very pale in comparison.

Wave is not just a singular tool, it is also a communication protocol. There is no single way to use it.

If you watched the demo you would see that many of the issues you mentioned in your comment can be addressed simply by choosing to use wave in the manner that is appropriate for the specific communication's context. You are free to approach it as:

'Collaborative draft and then publish' 'off the cuff IM type conversations' 'Push type communication like email' 'Pull type conversation like a blog' * etc...

Its really hard to explain without seeing the demo. When they publish the video for the day 2 keynote you should definitely watch it: http://wave.google.com

I would just respond to your summary by saying that it does what existing communication types do already... but better... and throws in things like versioning (history and record/playback), collaboration, and concurrent modification for free.

I think Twitter and Facebook are the key here. I think that those two sites and others are crying out for a unification of all of these axes of communications. Right now, your blog, your Twitter stream, your photo streams, the dozen different Facebook things, emails to friends -- unifying all of these in a way which lets the user navigate instantly to an appropriate level of detail, appropriate level of sign-off, and/or the appropriate kind of communications would be fantastic.

jzellman, eweaver, and I sat around one night last summer and made a grid of these things, for others like twitter, newsgroups, etc. Looking at it, it had holes in it, and we half-joked that all someone needed to do was pick some unfulfilled combination of communication axis, and they'd have another startup.

It's a new medium for communication. If it works, people will use it in new unexpected ways; if it doesn't, people won't use it. But there is a lot of excitement about new forms of real-time communication: twitter, recent friendfeed functionality, etc - so they may hit it right.

You are enumerating the current segmentation of the space, which is useful if you want to determine where the product stays, but these dimensions are not set in stone. For example Wikipedia is about off the cuff writing that evolves into an official document, collaboratively.

A couple of important communication axes: Receivers (number, type and level of privacy), Context (threads, or more generally things like being embedded in something like Facebook).

I like Roman Jacobson's work on communication functions, which wikipedia used to have a slightly better description of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Jakobson

what about http://summize.com ? Instant, Pull (with twitter, +push), filtered, real-time notifications? :)

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