When Google became the most used search engine and also started their own mail system, people started to worry. I am a little slow, so it took a while, but now that I am playing around with Google wave, desperately trying to figure out a use for it, I realise that I have been pwned.
I have several gmail-accounts, because it's so convenient to organise and also share according to projects when I know which box things come into, I use Google documents all the time, and I have my blogs at blogger. Which is, yes, Google owned. It's almost a relief that Yahoo owns Flickr, where I have a lot of my pictures. And now, Google wave.
So, let's try to look past the hype, and see if Google wave can become useful.
The main problem with all the google "thingies" is that despite the Google ownership, they aren't integrated. Well, not quite true - Google talk, Google's instant messenger (before wave), works wonderfully inside gmail. It is actually an added incentive to having the gmail box open, some of my favourite people are available that way. However, if I open Google documents - a very useful feature for coproduction of documents - both the email and the chat ends up in the background. The same happens if I open Google wave. This means that when I want to use the one or the other, I have to choose. That's rubbish. Ideally I would want to edit a document in Google docs (I think this is the most useful and innovative application google has come up with so far), be able to see if I got a relevant mail and comment instantly in the messenger, all without leaving the window I am in. If I have a google wave running (and I can absolutely see how the combination editing a google document/staying in touch with co-conspirators via live waves can work great) at the same time, I would want to see that it's been updated immediately, and particularly if it's a wave that is relevant for the work I am doing.
As long as Google Wave is seperate from the rest of the Google applications, it's about as useful as ICQ was, way back when. Actually, when ICQ entered the arena, instant messengers were new and uncommon and it was immensely useful. It had the messages, just like todays many different systems, but the live conference feature was organised in boxes and not like an IM. This meant that during a live update, you could choose to see the conversation not chronologically, but organised by sender, the way we experience a flesh world conversation. "Oh, wait a moment, you said something interesting," becomes relevant - and it can be re-found with a minimum of scrolling.
So far I haven't found a way to use Google wave better than ye olde ICQ. The interesting thing with all the google-apps is the potential, and that's huge. With some intelligent connections and user-friendly design they can soon connect everything. And when you have everything and a blog, then there's no stopping you at all - at least not in this society where the importance of social media is continously increasing.