Are We Ready to Replace E-Mail, Wikis with Google Wave?

Google Wave is garnering lots of attention in the blogosphere, but does the world really need it to replace e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and wikis? Blogger Anil Dash says users are by and large content with such solutions, but some readers disagree. Gartner analyst Ray Valdes weighs in on Wave for the Web and for the enterprise market.

Are you fed up enough with modern e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and wikis to use a product such as Google Wave, which rolls all of this functionality together? You might think you are, but pay attention first. Wave has learning curves for programmers and end users.

Google Wave is a communication and collaboration platform that rolls e-mail, instant messaging, blog and wiki functionality together and functions in real time. With Wave, users can co-edit a document or file right from their computers without even being in the same room with their collaborators.

Wave has the potential to take enterprise collaboration to the next level, and Google is in the process of open sourcing the many components of Wave for programmers to build applications.

Anil Dash, the high-profile blogger who called Wave to task Aug. 7 for being too hard for programmers to learn and implement in a reasonable amount of time, also suggested people aren't looking to replace e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and wikis.

Dash, also a vice president at blogging software maker Six Apart, wrote: "Those tools all work great for their intended purposes, and whatever technology augments them will likely offer a different combination of persistence and immediacy than those systems. Right now, Wave evokes all of them without being its own distinctive thing. Which means it's most useful in providing reference implementations of particular new features."

This calls into question whether the world is ready for Wave, which is in developer preview to some 10,000 users and will be rolled out to 100,000 users for testing among the general public Sept. 30.

Some readers disagreed that people aren't tired enough of modern tools to replace them with something such as Wave: "I must differ, I'm sick of e-mail and instant messaging right now (I usually use Facebook to communicate with friends). I think Wave will fix that," wrote Hugh in the comments for Dash's post.

Responding to the eWEEK article on Dash's Wave post, Ian Hendry said, "[If] e-mail had been invented today it would look nothing like the way it does currently, based on fat clients, offline workings and the like. So Wave shows promise. Especially when you factor in the number of steps and separate applications you need to use to get the same things done currently."