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(Disclaimer: I’m not an expert or a programmer. I just see a need for better designed communication system.)
I think many people were disappointed last week when the 100k invites for Google Wave went out and everyone realized… Google Wave isn’t what they think it is. The consensus: Wave is a glorified (or confusing) email/chat system that has its own protocol for creating collaborative documents. Woo hoo.
What were we expecting Google Wave to be? I think most people expected a system that would merge email, chat (IM & SMS), with the communication of Facebook and Twitter streams (links, video, pics, and more). An all-in-one protocol for messaging perhaps?
Why it’s needed:
A number of APIs allow us to send SMS Tweets that update our Facebook feed. We can send an IM to update Twitter. We can email a picture to Flickr which updates our FriendFeed and perhaps that posts back to Twitter or Facebook. Right now these services and connections are spread out over a number of sites (and frankly, it’s very hard to keep track of what is updating where and when I do what?).
What Wave and its ‘bots’ (or programmable plug-ins that deal with Waves) could/should be is… an organizational tool for all the many forms of communication we use to interact with other people on a daily basis. Google seems to be the business ready for this, with products like Gmail, Gtalk, Google Voice, and the power of Google search. Facebook, according to CEO Zuckerberg, would love to be the number one form of communication on the planet. The first to sort out the mess that is 101 million ways of interacting and communicating, will win. It’s that simple.
How it should work:
An interactive all-in-one communication tool should:
- Be open and extensible
- Any communication format can be sent to/from email, to IM or SMS, into World of Warcraft or Second Life (any game or site w/ chat), or translated into Japenese and sent as Voicemail, etc.
- With my permission, any bot should be able to access certain Waves and make this happen. Right now, we grant these permissions through APIs for various sites/tools we use.
- Have algorithmic privacy controls
- A public Wave about my recent surgery is automatically sent to only my family, close friends, and doctors. However, a Wave to my doctor is private. A link to melanoma goes to anyone interested in health (or at risk!).
- Be interoperable
- A friend’s Wave about an NFL player comes to me because I am have that player on my Yahoo! Fantasy Football team. Another friend’s Wave about a player I am not interested in, does not come to me.
- Be verifiable
- I should know who is communicating with me. A system that verifies identity on (at least) 3 platforms is needed to reduce spam and allow for more productive communication.
What it could do:
Besides allowing for Google, Facebook, and Twitter to use this new messaging protocol and still compete for your eyeballs on their brand/version of this one-stop-shop for communication, a system like this could be used for bigger and better things. First, I would assume that whatever system was created for this would have a mobile app on many phones, or at the very least be able to convert anything to SMS. Second, I would assume that this would be the protocol adopted and used for all communications systems: phone calls, emails, IM, chat, status updates (even collaborative docs). Again, this would allow all platforms to fight competitively about branding and front end design while still allowing users to ‘do more’ with their communications.
Now let’s say I am playing World of Warcraft and my wife is at the store. With the touch of a button I can send a /tell that will arrive as a text message on her phone. “Buy some milk”.
Someone could write a bot that would poll (Wave already has a polling bot) all Ohioans about the upcoming Issue to legalize gambling or even Obama’s healthchare plan. All verified user data could then be sent to my local representative or Senator. Talk about a powerful lobby for the people.
Add geographical locations in the mix and a 911 call about a man choking might send an SMS to a nearby doctor/paramedic and save someone’s life. “You are a registered paramedic. A man in a brown coat is choking at the restaurant next door. Can you assist?”
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