* 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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The simplest way I can put the Email/IM dichotomy is: it is file vs stream.
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.
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.
XMPP might be the answer, or maybe dialects on top of XMPP. (haven't looked too close to see what's possible).
I based what I wrote on the two articles that got posted to HN, and gave my initial impression.
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.
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'
Its really hard to explain without seeing the demo. When they publish the video for the day 2 keynote you should definitely watch it:
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.
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.
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