I first saw a computer in the 1970's and my first job out of high school was for a manufacturer of so-called mini-machines: The size of a washing machine, with storage and memory measured in kilobytes, not megabytes, and running BASIC.
Barely 10 years later, I was an expert with WordPerfect on an IBM PC, after several years of using a Wang (look it up), and what I learned about Lotus 1-2-3 back then has helped me use Excel ever since.
Then came e-mail. What fun!
Then came the internet, and I got hooked up at home in 1997. More fun! I even learned HTML and designed my own webpages. I became an eager user of Usenet. I even figured out IRC and took an entire course via ICQ. Web 1.0 was good to me.
Web 2.0 came along with interactive applications embedded in the web browser. Some were cooler (and more useful) than others. I like del.icio.us and still use it, and Twitter and Facebook are also in use. And blogs and Blogger, of course! I found a good use for Google Docs the day I was attending a course that offered no handouts but did have internet on our course PCs. So I opened up a doc in Google and typed notes there (and later e-mailed to fellow classmates). Very nice! Very convenient! On the downside, Web 2.0 introduced web forums and is steadily killing Usenet. I have not yet been able to befriend web forums; I am alienated by their look, their interface. Not enough text and order, too many icons, no decent quoting, and gray on gray or blue on blue decor (who finds that user friendly?).
So, what's next? What's Web 3.0? Google Wave, that's what. Based on this short (well-made) video, it seems rather cool. So I read more about the Wave, and came across this blog entry about it. I read the whole thing, did enlarge the pictures - and my heart sank.
I find chat annoying, simply because it is intrusive and in real-time, like answering a phone, not knowing how long the conversation will take. Unlike a phone, if you happen to be online on Facebook, someone can open a chat window and your "phone" answers itself, i.e. you look "in" and available. And it's rude and can even hurt feelings not to answer, I've found. I and many others. People expect, with chat and IM (instant messaging) and the like, to get instant replies, and that requires your undivided attention and time. Which is why chatting isn't always convenient. From now on, I am listed as offline on Facebook for that reason (sorry, friends) unless I really do have the time for a chat.
Google Wave is one huge chat-e-mail mash-up - with icons, threading, attachments, copy to's, forwards - and if you arrive late, you can replay everything that has happened so far.
I took one look at the screenshots, the clutter they show, the sheer amount of volume - of one-liners. My eyes usually balk at most graphical interfaces. I prefer clean text, maybe with colors for each quote-level, but that's it. I look at Google Wave's offering and feel not a wave, but a tsunami. It's too much.
So I ask myself: Will I not be able to join Web 3.0? I'm a destined to stick with Twitter as the pinnacle of my internet expertise, the last app where I could keep up with the young folks? Am I - old?
Or am I just right? Is Google Wave a good idea with poor implementation? Will it lead to "information" overload and loss of productivity? I predict there will be a lot of filtering offered in time.
I also see that the wave takes what is essentially a bad habit in e-mail (illustrated well in the short video above) and implements it as a feature: Just forwarding the whole kit and caboodle to someone new without telling them what it's about or why, just assuming they'll slog through the whole thing to find that one document stuck to the very bottom. No, we who receive such nonsense don't. We don't scroll down past a screen or two - not if you don't tell us why we should! Google Wave takes this bit of e-mail rudeness and turns it into a movie, where you can watch in real time how each reply and attachment and forward came about. Yeah, we have the time for that. Yes, we'll know which parts are pertinent without any help from the sender.
Dammit, Google, where are your manners? Don't you have anyone over 40 working for you?