I know there's been buzz about it for a while, but I only recently watched the demo for Google Wave. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. I sat there for the majority of the 1:20 video in stunned silence. For those of you who do not know me, I have been preaching about knowledge management for the better part of this decade. I've even preached about it in previous blog entries.
While my dream of true knowledge networks and collaboration has yet to be realized, it wasn't due to a lack of effort on anyone's part. It was more a lack of tools that made it simple to use and manage. The best tool/product/service is doomed is if people can't use it efficiently. As the Google Wave team discusses, a big part of the problem was trying to make tools fit existing thought processes. There are inherent inefficiencies in the tools we use today, because they were designed to mimic the tools of 20, 30, 40 years ago. The Google Wave team went completely outside the box and designed a system that looks at how people should collaborate using tools developed in the Internet era, not the obsolete tools of a bygone era.
I'll let the demo speak for itself, but the real-time, multi-person updating and editing was amazing. The ease in which you can add documents, files, and collaborators was beautiful. The playback feature for multiple edits nearly had me on the floor in awe. The ability to have some pieces up in the cloud, while others are firewalled and federated was great to see. Finally, and perhaps it's because I work for a global firm, I was nearly moved to tears when I saw "Rosy". Real-time translation of 40+ languages, with multiple languages in the same conversation, was just fabulous. I wanted to cheer with the conference attendees who saw the demo.
Now, obviously none of this is fully-baked. We have no idea if it will work as advertised once it hits the streets. Personally, I'm worried about the enterprise and the signal to noise ratio if I have a few thousand constantly updating Waves. But for now, it looks like the best thing to happen to knowledge management in well, ever. I for one cannot wait to see it go live.