Google Wave and news

Never underestimate Google. That should have been my 41st WWGD? rule. Just as I was thinking they were behind the curve on the live web – and argued they should buy Twitter – Google attacked it from the left flank with Wave.

In Wave, I see more than a new generation of email cum wikis cum Twitter cum groupware. Because it can feed blog and web pages and Twitter, I see a new way to create content, collaborative and live. I see a new way to make news.

Imagine a team of reporters – together with witnesses on the scene – able to contribute photos and news to the same Wave (formerly known as a story or a page). One can write up what is known; a witness can add facts from the scene and photos; an editor or reader can ask questions. And it is all contained under a single address – a permalink for the story – that is constantly updated from a collaborative team.

Here, I speculated about the topic becoming the new atomic unit of news, supplanting the article with wikis that contained a snapshot of what we know now, blogs that treat news as the process it is, links (do what you do best, link to the rest), discussion, and media of all types, some even live (Twitter, Marissa Mayer also gave journalists advice on the new form of news, telling them they needed to maintain updates under a permalink for the story so it could be searched and found.

Wave takes this to the next level. It combines the notions of a process as people add and subtract and update; it has the benefit of a wiki – a snapshot of current knowledge; it can be live; it can feed a blog page with the latest; it can feed Twitter with updates; it is itself the collaborative tool that lets participants question each other.

Wave isn’t just the email we’d invent if email were invented today, as was Google’s goal. Wave is what news can be if we invent it today, as we must.

Wave is the new news.

: LATER: I just got email from Jay Parkinson, who is remaking health care at Hello Health. He, too, was impressed with the opportunities in Wave.

Replace news story with “disease you suffer from” and reporter with primary care doc and editor with specialist and photos with lab results, etc, and you can see its potential.

What about your line of work?

  • I’m itching to get my hands on Wave for precisely the reasons you articulate. It has the potential to be the content management system I’ve always wanted — something that grows and morphs as the story develops and the community weighs in.

    • That is nice to read this article. I am from Bangladesh and already submit request for Google wave….I am really interested to work with some Google wave applications but not yet get enough information that how can I work with it,


  • It has potential because it’s a protocol, not a tool. Twitter is a tool that is afraid to establish itself as a protocol. I think Wave might have potential because of this, although I haven’t watched the video of the announcement yet. Unfortunately, from the images I’ve seen, it looks like the first tool Google built on the protocol is Outlook on crack. There’s a distinction that needs to be made.

  • “Twitter is a tool that is afraid to establish itself as a protocol.” Yes, indeed, I agree.

    Jeff, I’m not sure about Wave being the new news. News, saw them as a process, a product or a business, was never controlled by a single company, as this Wave scenario looks. An people might just be tired of so many services and tecnologies. Well, I am :) I don’t even read RSS feeds, I prefer the e-mail newsletters (btw, BuzzMachine should have one, I loose so many of your articles).

    • Paulo-

      Note that Wave is a protocol, and an open one at that. You won’t have to use Google to use wave. Third party developers will be able to make their own Wave servers, just like you can make/run your own e-mail servers.


  • oshift

    Wave is just more Google crap, like twitter, like every other “tool” intended to revolutionize the news industry. There are no “teams” of reporters left to use the tools.

    Nice thread on IRE if you follow it about the “legends” — all the Pulitzer winners — who have been cut from the payrolls.

    If you are a journalist on twitter, odds are that over 50% of your “followers” are in the PR business. That business is that one that really using these tools to mount traffic directly to advertisers.

    I’m sick of tools. I’m sick of your blog.

    • And apparently sick of much more.

      The teams that will work collaboratively are not journalists but the public with journalists.

  • James Thomson

    The effect resembles what CNN and other cable news networks are already experimenting with over-the-air (emails, twitters, phone-ins, etc.). I’m afraid the capabilities you described will facilitate the piranha-like “feeding frenzies” often seen on cable news when “big stories” break–another reason not to watch cable news.

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  • A solid line of thought Jeff. We are no longer in the information age, but the interactive communication age. The age of Twitter, Facebook and now Google Wave.

    Cell phone voice plans less will follow the home “Land line” as these services become primary modes of communication. The hardware is almost there, the services are already there and getting better day after day.

    Almost two years ago before Twitter was on anyone’s radar I noticed that they had really scored. Twitter was the evolution of the IIRC client of the internet. I knew then it would lead to a host of new interactive forms of communication.

    They say when we learned to talk, humans went through a transition of compounded progress that made the subsequent generations so much smarter. The ability to write and record took this progression speed much further.

    The post office made the worlds collective intelligence much more cohesive. We were now only weeks away from knowing fact which were occuring from all corners of the earth. This made the world smaller more than anything else before it.

    Then we had AT&T, we were not a rate of progression so fast that it made our industrial roots explode with innovation.

    With the information age we were still learning how to organize all of this info in this grand age of electronic wizardry.

    You get the point. We are finding better ways to learn, collect, organize, present, and communicate bits of information. Each time these bits become more relevant. The loop gets shorter and faster with each revolution. Now we are genre relevant, socially relevant & even Geo-relevant in real time.

    Who will be the first to connect their brainwaves to the mother brain?

  • Matthew Terenzio

    I was thinking the exact same thing. Wave is the future of news. We still need open source filters though, whether social or algorithmic, because Wave will make the tsunami (pun intended) of information overload that RSS and Twitter have brought to us look puny.

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  • Hi Jeff,
    I was at Google I/O and have asked to Sergey Brin what he thing about the newsroom in the cloud and the potential of the Wave for journalists.

    I have asked the same question to Stephanie Hannon, wich is de PM of Wave.

    And I made the same conclusion as you ..

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  • Thomas Knüwer has written in German about consequences of Wave for journalists: Als Google dem Ballmer den Tag versaute [Indiskretion Ehrensache]. When I saw the demo, I was immediately reminded of your “replacing the article” because Wave allows just the combination of wiki, blogposts, links and discussion that is difficult to realize with today’s CMSses. The next step could be specialized “news plugins” for Wave.

  • Hi Jeff,

    Wave link is to your post WWGD? and not


  • Wikitwitty-type news could be fantastic. In all honesty, though, it could be a complete carcrash too. There’s something reassuring about knowing that the article you’re reading has just one voice behind it…

  • I haven’t watched the video yet but this is great. I’m personally on a watch for Web 3.0 — semantic web infrastructure and search. I think RSS feeds are partly semantic because they separate content from location. It looks like the Wave is also semantic because it combines content, data, conversation and people from multiple locations around one place. That’s even more semantic than we originally thought because it involves groupings of people. Does that mean we’re at Web 2.5 or 2.75?

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  • The real big thing about Wave is that it understands media – and a lot more – as a process, not as a statement or even something called truth. That is for me the most promising idea, as intelligence is always a process…

  • i’m excited by this innovation and feel it will be a game changer in ever sense, BUT:

    is there a final product that comes out of Wave?

    an article?

    a radio feature?

    for certain news items, a simple wave without an “author” may make a lot of sense — time and again, i’ve watched journalist colleagues struggle to make “art” out of facts when that’s not necessarily needed.

    but, i also wonder about the artistry that might be lost when there’s no longer room for an auteur’s sense of detail — and that’s both selfishly from the journalist’s side and as a reader/listener/viewer, who has delighted in idiosyncrasies included in coverage of such otherwise banal events as city council meetings.

    i don’t see magazine articles being supplanted by Waves, but i also hope there’s still room for a sense of authorship in quotidian daily news. otherwise, talented journalists may not bother to pursue the craft.

  • The thing about Wave is that it doesn’t compete with current Internet trends (like twitter,..) but it embraces them. This makes the Wave platform highly usable.

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  • Winston in 1984 would find Wave a great way to do his job of constantly editing history — actually, all his comrades could reach in and keep editing what he wrote endlessly, no need for the burn hole anymore.

    A jumble of notes, outdated articles, updates, photos, comments, links is not a well-thought out news article in which some discipline of thought and research have been applied. It’s just a jumble. Externalizing the jumble doesn’t improve thinking, it dumbs it down.

    All our conversations will be collectivized in the Wave, where there is no robot.txt and where Google can scrape it all for its own commercial gain, at our expense.

    You know, Jeff, what’s so wrong with your thinking is that if this kind of monopolizing mega blanketing behavior were done by “Microsoft” or “America” or “telecoms” you’d be sputtering and screaming about how unfair and walled-garden and evil it all was. But when Google does it, it is sprinkled with holy water.


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  • I was excited when I watched the Wave demo as well, but upon further reflection, I don’t think it’s the future of news. I think it’s the future of Op-Ed. Or maybe the future of breaking news (as opposed to investigative journalism). Or, to put it in technical terms: it’s not an Outlook-killer or a Word-killer. It’s an IM-killer and a blog/wiki-killer.

    There is something to be said about “crafting an e-mail” or “writing a news article” or “publishing a book.” Most of the time, I don’t want the recipients of my e-mails or Word documents to read them as I’m writing them. I want to go back & edit, add points, restructure sections that aren’t clear, etc.. When it’s done, then it can be “published” (i.e., Sent).

    The follow-up discussion that may take place about my e-mail or document seems extremely well serviced by Wave, although I agree with the point above that too much scale here becomes unwieldy (can you imagine 100 concurrent users co-editing a blog post, as opposed to pubilshing sequential comments?)

    For small groups (especially geographically disbursed small groups), this is going to revolutionize real-time communication. If, however, they expect that “40-year old technology, e-mail” to go away, I think they may be surprised.

    But then again, isn’t that the Google way? The users get to decide how the tools are used, not Google. And I think they’re fine with that.

    • c o’donnell

      To quote:

      ” but upon further reflection, I don’t think it’s the future of news. I think it’s the future of Op-Ed. Or maybe the future of breaking news (as opposed to investigative journalism). ”

      There is something to be said about “crafting an e-mail” or “writing a news article” or “publishing a book.” Most of the time, I don’t want the recipients of my e-mails or Word documents to read them as I’m writing them. I want to go back & edit, add points, restructure sections that aren’t clear, etc.. When it’s done, then it can be “published” (i.e., Sent).

      The follow-up discussion that may take place about my e-mail or document seems extremely well serviced by Wave…”

      Maybe I’m beating a drum with a broken head here, but the lowly community beat reporter understands How Things Work and Where To Go For More Info. A good beat writer is an Expert On Context.

      I know because I am one. I can show you local allegedly professional blog news of the same meetings I cover, filled with errors because the author of them doesn’t have the context in mind or to curiosity to find it out. Links to the appropriate information could be provided but aren’t.

      Process journalism is tiresome to cover and write about and equally uninspiring to read most of the time, but that’s the stuff of local government.

      So yeah, maybe catastrophes, political revolutions and floods. So not: sewer line extensions, where the landfill’s going to go, someone’s plan to plop down another housing development.

      I’m itching for better tools and better approaches, but until someone figures out how to pay the news writers to provide the backbone without burdening them with artificial limitations, this is all speculation.

      And the truth is, many things aren’t amenable to daily articles/updates/whatever. When you’ve got umpteen bytes of bandwidth and umpteen/3 bytes of news, buess what you get? Cable TV … Huffington Post “celebrity news.” Content-free zone.

  • I hope future iterations of gWave will enable a Doc to have instant (and secure) access to a Longitudinal view of a Patient’s EHR/PHR. It will be interesting to see how and when gWave intersects with gHealth.

  • zywotkowitz

    If news really worked this way, it would be the “Death of the Narrative”. No more organizing principle (ie. spin) provided by the news outlet.

    That would be a much bigger change than the advances in distribution, conversations etc that JJ always talks about.

    But I think people really do want their world to be premasticated in the sense of already made intelligible.

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  • Hey

    Really not sure about using Wave to create the news with everyone. Total trainwrecks at large sites with comments (Fark, for example) on controversial/topical/whatever stories.

    Wave is beyond amazing for anyone who has used groupware/knowledge management systems. Checking documents in and out, etc. Systems are very painful, slow, and restricted. Wave collaboration looks great and will do wonders for groups working on projects together. A team working on a story, people working on code, presentations, business plans… But a live wiki of a story, I don’t know.

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  • Jim Knopf

    I agree that Wave has great potential and everything. But I would not want to read a news story as you sketch it, at least not my usual type of news. Surprisingly, I do not have time to watch other people work, e.g as they.

    – ask themselves and others questions
    – rephrase some garbage
    – correct typing errors
    – do some research
    – think before they have thought it out
    – etc.pp.

    When I want to know what happened in my areas of interest, I prefer something that is well done, not raw and bloody.

    Please remember, I am talking as a reader/user/consumer of your basic average news (not 9/11 or something like it). Wave will be a great collaboration tool, as has been noted before, and not only for news editors, as well. Someone said, to him it is the content management system he waited for. I would agree on that thought at the moment, but that means back end, not front end.

    So I seriously doubt that it works well as a presentation plattform to consumers/readers/users in daily business.

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  • Jeff,

    Like lots of people, I am also awaiting for the Wave, I think it will carry a wave of innovation and more importantly of hacks and tweaks to adapt it into mainly businesses. Personally, I am interested to see what it can add up to crowdsourcing, what new features and possibilities it can bring to prosumers to collaborate, innovate, share, create. If anyone has any ideas? Throw it up?

  • Max

    Jeff doesn’t know what news is. First, it takes a great deal of hard work to write a news article. A crowd is incapable of that. Wikipedia is riddled with errors of fact and a vast majority of its articles are poorly written. It’s a festering heap of junk. Second, the hard work of news writing is expensive. How is google wave going to pay for the hard work of writing news? It won’t. There won’t be reporters or teams of reporters. There will be a mass of halfwits having their buttons pushed by PR people creating nonsense to benefit the few and the powerful.

    • Ah, well, then, years spent on news desks and as a reporter on newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Examiner and NY Daily News are clearly wasted. So sorry. Yes, I don’t know new sand you’re are too chickenshit to give your name. Where do you work? Do you work?

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  • I think I am heading in the opposite direction: turning these innumerable streams into a topic beam:

  • This could replace Facebook – it allows for better communication with more ability to import/export stuff for users who are focused on what matters to them: The people they know.

    It won’t replace news gathering … and I don’t think that’s its intention at all.

    However, though it appears to be 10X more powerful than facebook and 20X more powerful than standard e-mail alone, the question arises: Can it draw the audience that MySpace, Twitter and Facebook has?

    The great thing about the other three social networks I just mentioned are that if you join, it’s not long before old friends and acquaintances start finding you. The more you friend, the more you find/find you. It grows and grows.

    I wonder how one would search Google Wave for their peeps?

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  • Jeff-

    In reading this post, and listening to your latest interview on TWiT, a thought occurred to me: one thing Google didn’t demo was the ability to merge waves.

    If a reporter starts a wave, it will be critical for them to be able to merge in waves started by witnesses at the scene. This is more than just ‘forwarding’ a wave or adding someone new to the conversation, you need to be able to actually merge content.

    P.s. I’ve got a post published roughly the same time as this one on the subject. :)

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  • The biggest problem it solves is that you no longer have to write “See comments inline”

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  • Biff

    It’s nice of so many people to feed the Google machine for free. Do you do yard work? How about washing windows? I could use some free help.

    One day there will be shocking news from Google, like they are charging you to access your own content. Just wait, you’ll see.

    • Biff

      For the young people here, I didn’t mean free help. I meant we can “collaborate” on washing my windows. Think of it as a community project.

    • Anolis

      Google wouldn’t do that because they make all of their money off of advertising

  • Check out mashables’s complete Wave guide:

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  • […] unit of news” to (variably) the individual article, the individual fact, the individual topic, the individual “hyperpersonal news stream,” the individual tweet, or the individual […]

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