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– Will Smith, Men In Black –
I have seen the future, and it is Google Wave. That having been said, I have also seen the present, and it is using Google Wave. Allow me to explain:
I’ve been riding the Wave for about a week now, and I have to say that my first impression was: WOW! So were my second, third and fourth impressions. Wave pretty much takes everything I like about the internet and puts it together in one convenient package. I am – frankly – astounded at the things it allows me to do. This is (as Will Smith so succinctly put it) next level shit. Wave is billed as a collaboration tool and it certainly fills that bill (although I have to admit that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to use it as such – so far I’ve just been playing). It also works well as a replacement for E-Mail, instant messaging and just about any other variety of social media you care to name. I’m not making this up – Google Wave rocks. And it is the future of online communication. This is not to say that the big ‘G’ will be the provider of said future, no more than Outlook personifies E-Mail (despite the fact that many people actually believe this to be the case). It’s not Wave that’s the future, but rather what Wave represents. And what it will become.
Unfortunately, the internet is – in a nutshell – a network that exists to connect people. And, in case you haven’t noticed, people are pretty stupid (in general, not individually. You are very smart). This means that many of the people currently using Google Wave (probably the majority of them) aren’t really getting it. And this is where the present comes in. The sad fact is that we have an incredible wealth of technology at our disposal, yet most people only use it to send sideways smiley faces to each other. So most of the people riding the Wave (that I have been exposed to) are basically just treating it as though it’s a chat room with bells and whistles. I say this to illuminate, not to denigrate. My Darling Wife initially shied away from the Wave, viewing it as being too complicated to readily adopt. She changed her tune after I pointed her attention to two things: 1) E-Mail is a complicated unknown when we’re first exposed to it, and 2) You can use Wave without knowing how to access all of its functionality (or any of it, for that matter). At first glance, Google Wave looks very much like an online forum or the comment threads on any of a number of web sites. And this is where I feel a need to warn the average user: Google Wave is NOT anonymous.
Let me repeat that. Wave is NOT anonymous. Quite the opposite, in fact. Wave requires you to have a Google account (which is your Gmail account). Your Wave address and your Gmail address are functionally the same (@googlewave vs. @gmail). This means that anyone you talk to in Wave has access to your E-Mail address. Is this a problem? If it is, you should stay away from the Wave. If it isn’t, you’re probably the kind of person I’d like to include in my Waves.
Like I said: Next level shit. And that means you have to take personal responsibility for it. Welcome to the new millennium.
I’ve been using Twitter for a while now. I’m not a die-hard convert, and I’m probably only connected for an hour or so a day. On most days, I don’t Tweet at all. Truth be told, I’ve only been dabbling in it for two reasons: the first is that I’m thrilled by the 140 character limit. I’m a big fan of any device that forces people to get to the point. The second reason is that I want to see the purpose Twitter eventually finds for itself. As a medium, it’s still pretty young, and it hasn’t yet found its purpose.
I know there are many of you out there that will tell me that Twitter is a Great Business Tool. In response, I’m inclined to say: Crap. ‘It’s a great business tool’ is one of the Two Great Technological Justifications. The other is ‘It has many educational applications’. Again, crap. These are things we say when we’re afraid to say that we like something simply because it’s cool. And make no mistake – technology is cool. The ‘wow’ factor is probably the second most powerful force behind technological development (the first, of course, being money).
But I must admit that there is some merit to the Twitter-as-business-tool argument. As a Map Dork, I follow many other Map Dorks on Twitter, and I often learn pertinent, valuable and (above all) timely tidbits of information about the goings-on in the Map Dork world (Mapocron Dorkia IV). To be honest, though, I read far more about food and booze than I do about maps. But maybe that applies to all disciplines, on one level or another.
There is one particular area, though, where Twitter can really shine as a business tool. On two separate occasions, I have tweeted my frustration over my failure to use an application in the manner that suited my fancy. On both of those occasions, my tweet generated an unsolicited response from one of the people closely associated with the application in question. Both scenarios happened out of the blue, and both led to a protracted session of tech support, supplied courtesy of Twitter.
Twitter happens in near-realtime, and its API makes it possible to track any subject being tweeted about (yes, folks – I hear about it every time you talk about me). In both of these situations, the people I talked to took advantage of these aspects of Twitter to provide swift and active (I loathe the so-called word ‘proactive’. It’s jargon, pure and simple, and it’s almost always used to mean ‘active’) support for a product. Granted – in one of these cases the support was supplied for love of the applications and out of simple common decency (thanks, Steve), but that just serves to make it more valuable and appreciated.
So this is where I think Twitter really can be a Great Business Tool. The ability to supply customer support BEFORE IT’S EVEN ASKED FOR is the kind of public relations that can move mountains. It’s like having Jedi Knights arrive to lend a hand just because they felt a disturbance in the Force.
Came across something a bit odd the other day. I was Googling something (I forget what), and I Googled Jeopardy-style (i.e., in the form of a question). I often do this (oddly, I find most people I talk to don’t realize that you can) and I invariably get good results.
Anyway, this particular time the question I was typing started simply with the word ‘does’. For some reason, after typing ‘does’ and hitting the spacebar, I looked up at the screen. I saw that the Google search bar (in an attempt to be helpful) had dropped down a list of search terms starting with ‘does’. I assume that the list becomes populated in a similar fashion to any Google page – i.e., the result of indexed internet traffic. In the case of the search bar, though, it stands to reason that it would be populated by an index of the terms searched for, rather than an index of what’s available on the web.
So – if you stop to think about it – that drop-down list is a little window into the current popular psyche. In many ways, it’s telling us what’s on the mind of the internet. So – of course – I just had to play around with this a bit.
In true Freudian fashion, I have decided to divide my findings into three basic categories (Id, Ego and Super-Ego), each of which is represented by a single search term (‘does’, ‘why’ and ‘should’, respectively), and here are the results:
So there you have it. Today’s quick peek into the seedy underside of the popular psyche. I assume that the lists I got today are different than the ones I would have gotten last month, as well as the ones I would get next month. It stands to reason that the lists would be as fluid and changeable as the psyche that produces them. Because of this, I think I’m going to have to keep an eye on this. It could be interesting.
Maybe I’ll do this as a regular, weekly post. If so, I’ll be sure to do it on Monday, when the popular psyche is still reeling from all the hopes and regrets of the weekend.