Google Wave: unifying two ancient forms of communication

Humans have always had two main forms of communication – synchronous and asynchronous. Not very romantic categories, but they encompass everything. Synchronous is a real-time exchange and includes speech, telegraph, telephone, instant messenger, video conferencing. Asynchronous is delayed or one-way and includes painting, writing, email, the web. SMS and Twitter get close to blending the two, but only by being flexible enough to behave in both ways.

Now we have a true blend of these two ancient forms of communication: Google Wave. For instance you can read an email and start an instant messenger conversation around a particular point in it.

This is rather like an art historian standing in front of an old painting, explaining what the god signified and why he was doing something to the nymph. Except it’s happening in everyday desktop communications.

If Wave works – and we’ll know soon, as soon as enough people are using it – it could well be a ‘moment’ in communications.