The hyptasticness that is Google Wave continues to annoy me as a Flash developer and RIA enthusiast. Now I preface all of this by admitting that I haven’t used it; maybe when I get an invite this thing will be worth all of the finger grease that keyboards have endured as people talk about it. And I’m not saying it’s not impressive; it is. It’s a great demo, it does some very cool stuff. I’m not annoyed at Google Wave, I’m annoyed because everything that people like about that demo was doable 3-5 years ago with Flash. Flash Remoting, Flash Communication Server, and our much better user interface capabilities pretty much could have created Google Wave. Now I understand that there’s some excitement because this is built on open standards with a more open model, but people don’t get excited about standards- they get exited about vision. And that’s what kills me.
I don’t care if you’re a Silverlight developer or a Flash developer; the technology platform you’ve got is years ahead of what Google Wave is built on. Yet with all of our UI prowess, our design sense, and our pure and simple technical superiority with things like real time communication and scalability we haven’t built very much that captures people’s imaginations the way that Google Wave has. I think we lack the vision.
I think it could be argued that in some cases we’re TOO visionary. If someone had actually built Google Wave 3-5 years ago it wouldn’t have made the same impact because people wouldn’t have realized what it meant. In the RIA world we live in the bubble of the future. I genuinely think that most of us look 3-5 years ahead because that’s where our technology puts us. When people don’t get what we’re trying to pitch we just move on to the next thing. Look at Augmented Reality. Possible with Flash for a couple of years now but it’s just starting to get some main stream attention. RIA developers seem permanently entrenched in the Technology Trigger of the Hype Cycle and we don’t seem to be able to follow things through to the Plateau of Productivity.
Part of the Wave hypefest is probably because of the world’s love/hate relationship with Google. When they do something everyone goes nuts and that’s because they really do have the power to change the web. They did it once, they’re big, they’re smart, they can do it again. But there are a lot of smart people in the RIA world. Big companies like Microsoft and Adobe and small ones like Aviary and Picnik. We just don’t seem to encourage the visionary demos, the ones that make people rethink how they’ll communicate and interact. I don’t know if that has to come from the big companies directly or whether it’s something we can encourage startups to do. We don’t have a technology problem; if that was all it took we’d be cranking out Wave-esque demos all the time. We just don’t seem to be able to look at the entire scope of what we’ve been doing for the past couple of years and put it together in a game changing way.
I don’t have a solution, but if you’ve got suggestions, I’m all ears.