Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another thought on Google Wave

A Wave is a first-class object representing a communication over time. One effect of promoting one's own communicative events to components of a first class object, is that your task-switching to re-organize and re-contextualize the communication should drop. The machine is doing the organizing for you.

But a second, less obvious side-effect is that the number of temporary communicative threads you engage in on a daily basis, and the number of established communication pipelines you are a part of -- and thus the number of discussions you expect to monitor and expect to participate in -- will be exposed and countable. This should cause a major shift in work habits as many people become conscious of the number of communication streams they have either been ignoring, or have assumed they could reasonably manage. Right now with email we do everything asyncronously and allow the past communications to be forgotten and the structure of the conversation to drift and fade out. With Wave, it is less easy to tune out the structure of the conversation because it is a first-class construct.

So, I may have dozens of people and developer lists emailing me. But if I pull up dozens of Waves and try to monitor all of them as a synchronous activity it will be obvious that some of these communications are sucking down my real productive time. And when a manager can put a metric on what is perceived to be unproductive time, you can bet habits will shift to optimize the metric downward. Imagine now getting this error: "Access Denied: Wave Quota Reached. Please see your System Administrator".

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