Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Google Wave and working people

This project has arisen out of an initial contact with Google Wave. The idea which Google Wave represents seems sufficiently powerful to warrant exploring not how it could replace other social media technologies such as Twitter and Facebook but, rather, how it could help to begin to knit them all together in a more productive and efficient manner.

My understanding of Google Wave is currently limited: I haven't used it very much, it's still very much in preview phase - and many things could change between preview and a wider beta.

But what does seem clear to me is that Google has defined a fascinating tool for tracking and auditing thought - for registering where ideas come from, who thinks them up and how - exactly - they arise.  This, in itself, this registration process for ideas, recognises that no one thinker is an island; that we all build on the ideas of others before and around us.

In this sense, Google has finally pulled together - in what may very soon become a user-friendly form - Vannevar Bush's Memex machine: a machine conceptualised with the technology of the time to store not only discrete ideas but also trains of thought.

Humankind's ingenuity - and future - lies in its ability to follow thoughts through to logical consequences and take advantage of or avoid their implications.

Google Wave could serve as a fascinating basis for pulling together a wide range of social media - media which socialise us as well as instruct us - on a non-competitive and non-excluding basis.

Does Wave make Google evil?  I'm not so sure.  Yesterday, I was playing around with a Twitter bot which allowed me to import the content of my Twitter feed into a Wave - and then start to amend, add and develop lines of thought from the entire range of thinkers appearing in that feed.  If Wave was more widely available, I could have invited individuals from that Twitter feed to join me on the Wave and take some of those ideas to develop even further.

I don't think Wave can make Google evil.  Other social technologies and tendencies will ensure it'll revert to type: Wave will become the backbone of communication, but symbiotically so - not parasitically. 

It is up to us now to work out how to use it for the benefit of working people and their communities - how to make it work for the people who need to work for a living.

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