For almost five years, I’ve had a dream of creating a decentralized social networking system with granular access permissions and a customizable workflow. It would be open source, with an underlying, decentralized open protocol based on XMPP that anyone could build on top of and extend. It would redefine the way we work on the web, and make social connections as much of a part of the Internet infrastructure as email is today.
Google just released it.
In all seriousness, Google Wave, and particularly the Wave Protocol, have the ability to completely change how we communicate on the Internet. That might sound a little over-enthusiastic, but so far the project seems to be getting everything right. It’s distributed, extensible, granular (as public or private as you want) and open. There’s been some talk about the interface for their sample client being a little cluttered, but the team are at pains to point out that it’s in the early stages – and this misses the wider implications of the technology.
I’m not the only one talking in superlatives. Tim O’Reilly points out:
Suddenly, familiar applications look as old-fashioned as DOS applications looked as the GUI era took flight. Now that the web is the platform, it’s time to take another look at every application we use today, and ask the same question [project founders] Lars and Jens asked themselves [with email]: "What would this look like if we invented it today instead of twenty-five years ago?"
It remains to be seen how the project will develop, but I’ll be paying very close attention.