Sunday, May 31, 2009

Google is Awesome To the Plex

This is sort of a lame entry, I know, but I feel like I need to give some props to Google. No company is perfect, and Google has been party to a malfeasance or two, and party to a few questionable practices. Nothing serious. And what large corporation hasn't? It's hard to keep tabs on the behavior of thousands of employees. Overall Google is an excellent company that has produced some pretty remarkable products.

I was just watching a video on their latest effort, Google Wave. Here's the link if you're interested.

The same engineering team that created Google Maps is now working on Wave. In lieu of trying to describe it myself, I'll deign to Lars Rasmussen, the lead architect on the project. He says, "In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content -- it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave to see how it evolved."

You really have to see it to understand. The demo video is a bit down the page at the address I quoted above. It's long but worth it if you're interested. As usual, Google has fully imagined a simple concept, maximizing every aspect with a strong focus on usability and user interface. If you remember, Google Maps did the same thing, taking an existing concept offered for years by companies like Mapquest, exploring the idea's full potential. In the process it created a completely new platform for information presentation, and made services like Mapquest seem like mere toys.

Google Wave is set to turn email, instant messaging, content creation, collaborative workflows and many other applications on their ear, fusing them all into one seamless environment.

As an aside, some of you may not know that I went to Hebrew School with Sergei Brin, the co-founder of Google. It's true, oddly enough. He and his family immigrated from Russia I believe, and came to Greenbelt where he spent a short period of time at our synagogue and in my Hebrew School class. He was a quiet kid, so I never really knew him that well. Years later he starts what would become one of the most important companies on the planet. In "Six Degrees of Sergei Brin-tion"*, I'm a direct connection.

Remember that for the next uber-geek party you attend**.

*There's actually no such game, at least officially. You can play it if you like, but it's likely to be a pretty dull exercise. Try "Six Degrees of Random Garden Vegetables." It's much more entertaining.

**If you find yourself at such a party, remember, they are probably far more scared of you than you are of them. Bring nachos.

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