The big challenge of predicting the future is the high probability of failure. The future is not linear – it’s lumpy.
The office that I work in has been abuzz about Google Wave and Becky has been gently badgering me to air my thoughts on it. I have been reluctant to give a definitive judgement on it, as I believe that like Twitter; it’s true utility may not become apparent until there are a critical amount of users on it. It used to be that device manufacturers created a gizmo but the software on the device was the killer application (for instance the Apple II and VisiCalc, the Macintosh and Aldus PageMaker or the iPhone and 60,000+ applications), with the web the utility and the killer application is the network of people on there.
Google Wave does herald some changes in the web which will require consumers to alter their behaviour.But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, what is Google Wave anyway? Wave is a personal communications and collaboration tool. Say what? Google has looked trying to innovate by bringing together elements of different tools which are currently used by the members of the public to varying degrees: e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networks.
When you use it, the bits that are immediately obvious are the instant messaging platform and the ability to share video clips. The interface isn’t as easy to use as other Google products like GMail so its questionable whether it will eventually find widespread consumer adoption in its present form. It is interesting in that it shows Google’s thinking about web communications.
The biggest aspect from my perspective is the move from the real-time web to what I term the thought-time web. When you are typing via instant messenger you don’t display your message until you press return on a conversation. With Wave people can see your message as you type, if you’re like me you work out the structure of what you’re going to say in the dialogue box, editing as you go having this transparency on your message creation may not be that good an idea.
With Wave you would have to use another editing programme and cut-and-paste into the Wave dialogue box in order to get the same functionality in message writing. this means that they can jump in at any point in the conversation and it also means message trails will become less meaningful as you can’t see the order in which responses happen against each other in the same way as IM.
A secondary aspect to this is what I can transient data. Think about it in terms of these two hypothetical scenarios:
Contrast this with the current culture of email and Facebook where is there is an evidence or document trail that the victim can use for recourse. The social aspects of thought-time communications a la Google Wave haven’t been fully understood yet and society’s way of dealing with the challenges are likely to take years to iron out.
I was in Reading, visiting a friend from my days in the north and came face-to-face with the price of cigarettes for the first time in a good while.
Being a non-smoker, I was shocked, cigarettes with the exception of ‘Pall Mall’ now cost seven pounds for a pack of 20.
Even Lambert & Butler cost seven pounds. Next question is where is all that sin tax going to? How efficiently and effectively is is being spent?
In the 1980s Nancy Reegan fronted a public service advertising campaign ‘Just say no‘, originally designed to combat rampant cocaine and marijuana usage in the US.
About this time Hewlett Packard released one of the first touchscreen computers. The HP-150 was MS-DOS compatible. It was unsuccessful because users didn’t like to take their fingers off the keyboard to use a touchscreen and accomplish the same things but more slowly.
Over two decades later and there are even more people who can touch type, yet technology companies don’t seem to have learned their lessons on touchscreens. Windows laptops with touchscreen technology tend to be heavier, more cumbersome and complex with fancy hinges to facilitate use of the tablet. Yet since the success of the iPhone touch is seen as the answer to everything.
Don’t get me wrong, it has its uses in hospitals, kiosks or items which need an e-signature like the Fedex and UPS delivery services but it doesn’t facilitate productivity in a lot of applications. It takes cool engineering and technology to make a touchscreen interface, but that doesn’t mean that its right for the majority of users: ReadWriteWeb describes it more impolitely as ‘Tablets are Toys‘.
Delicious is one of them products which was created pretty much perfect in its first incarnation and they have been very careful in the way that they have tweaked it over time.
Now they have made it even easier to share content than ever by allowing you to save a bookmark and share it via email in an elegant manner. I am less fussed by the Twitter integration due to the high volume of retweets already, that is more of human (social engineering) issue than the way it has been put in.