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CNET First Look
Google WaveRafe Needleman gets his hands on the developer preview of Google Wave. Here's what it is and why it matters.
[ Music ] >> Hi, I'm Rafe Needleman from CNET taking a first look at Google Wave. Google Wave is a really interesting rethink of e-mail from Google. It's a highly experimental project and we got a look at the developer's preview, and here's what Wave is. It's realtime e-mail. What that means is that as you're typing a message in Wave, either a new message or a reply to one you got, the person you're writing to can see what you're typing as you type it. Sounds weird, doesn't it? You don't have to use Wave in this realtime way. It also works as a standard e-mail app. What's really different about Wave is that if you're replying to a message and the person you're replying to happens to be online at the same time and sees that their message thread is getting updated they can jump into the conversation at that point and change what was an e-mail conversation into functionally an instant message conversation or a chat. So here I am, for example, writing a message to Steven Shanklin about Wave. I just write it as a normal e-mail, but then he happens to come online, write a response to me live. We have a little dialogue. So it goes from an e-mail to a chat and then to a collaborative editing where he starts putting things into the document I originally wrote and I start adding things back as well. Wave is really different, and it really does change the way you look at e-mail. You no longer see a message as a static thing, you write differently knowing that your message can become an IM at any moment. But here's the thing. It works. If you're responding it a message and the other person comes on line and wants to change that dialogue into a realtime chat you can resolve whatever it is you were discuss right then and clear the conversation from your Inbox for good. Now Wave is about more than realtime e-mail. It's also a new platform for messaging in which all replies and conversations on a message happen in the messages themselves. Not in the copies that are sent all over the net as in regular e-mail. That means that multiple recipients of a message can all have dialogues in the message, and nobody will get out of sync. Now everything that we've seen on Wave is experimental. Many of the features in the developer's preview don't work. And Wave isn't yet connected to other communication systems like regular e-mail, which means the only people I can Wave with as a user are other people who are on Wave as well. So we don't yet know what using Wave will be like once it gets crowded like e-mail, and we haven't yet seen how Spammers will attack it. Also, the technology behind Wave is far more demanding on servers and on the Internet itself than regular e-mail or chat. So we don't know how well the technology about scale. But Wave really is a contemporary rethink of e-mail. A lot of people won't like it, a lot of people didn't like e-mail either when it first showed up, or IM, or Facebook, or Twitter. But people will find real uses for Wave and whatever it becomes, and it's one of the most interesting new takes on communications I've ever seen. When it comes out later this year, give it a fair shake, even if you don't like it. It will make you think differently about e-mail. I'm Rafe Needleman from CNET, and this has been a first look at Google Wave.