Tag Archives: Twitter

Some of my (very) preliminary opinions on Google Wave

I was interviewed by Marie Boran from Silicon Republic recently for an interesting article she was writing entitled “Will Google Wave topple the e-mail status quo and change the way we work?“. I thought that maybe my longer answers may be of interest and am pasting them below.

Disclaimer: My knowledge of Google Wave is second hand through various videos and demonstrations I’ve seen… Also, my answers were written pretty quickly!

As someone who is both behind Ireland’s biggest online community boards.ie and a researcher at DERI on the Semantic Web, are you excited about Google Wave?

Technically, I think it’s an exciting development – commercially, it obviously provides potential for others (Google included) to set up a competing service to us (!), but I think what is good is the way it has been shown that Google Wave can integrate with existing platforms. For example, there’s a nice demo showing how Google Wave plus MediaWiki (the software that powers the Wikipedia) can be used to help editors who are simultaneously editing a wiki page. If it can be done for wikis, it could aid with lots of things relevant to online communities like boards.ie. For example, moderators could see what other moderators are online at the same time, communicate on issues such as troublesome users, posts with questionable content, and then avoid stepping on each other’s toes when dealing with issues.

Does it potential for collaborative research projects? Or is it heavyweight/serious enough?

I think it has some potential when combined with other tools that people are using already. There’s an example from SAP of Google Wave being integrated with a business process modelling application. People always seem to step back to e-mail for doing various research actions. While wikis and the like can be useful tools for quickly drafting research ideas, papers, projects, etc., there is that element of not knowing who is doing stuff at the same time as you. Just as people are using Gtalk to augment Gmail by being able to communicate in contacts in real-time when browsing e-mails, Google Wave could potentially be integrated with other platforms such as collaborative work environments, document sharing systems, etc. It may not be heavyweight enough on its own but at least it can augment what we already use.

Where does Google Wave sit in terms of the development of the Semantic Web?

I think it could be a huge source of data for the Semantic Web. What we find with various social and collaborative platforms is that people are voluntarily creating lots of useful related data about various objects (people, events, hobbies, organisations) and having a more real-time approach to creating content collaboratively will only make that source of data bigger and hopefully more interlinked. I’d hope that data from Google Wave can be made available using technologies such as SIOC from DERI, NUI Galway and the Online Presence Ontology (something we are also working on).

If we are to use Google Wave to pull in feeds from all over the Web will both RSS and widgets become sexy again?

I haven’t seen the example of Wave pulling in feeds, but in theory, what I could imagine is that real-time updating of information from various sources could allow that stream of current information to be updated, commented upon and forwarded to various other Waves in a very dynamic way. We’ve seen how Twitter has already provided some new life for RSS feeds in terms of services like Twitterfeed automatically pushing RSS updates to Twitter, and this results in some significant amounts of rebroadcasting of that content via retweets etc.

Certainly, one of the big things about Wave is its integration of various third-party widgets, and I think once it is fully launched we will see lots of cool applications building on the APIs that they provide. There’s been a few basic demonstrator gadgets shown already like polls, board games and event planning, but it’ll be the third-party ones that make good use of the real-time collaboration that will probably be the most interesting, as there’ll be many more people with ideas compared to some internal developers.

Is Wave the first serious example of a communications platform that will only be as good as the third-party developers that contribute to it?

Not really. I think that title applies to many of the communications platforms we use on the Web. Facebook was a busy service but really took off once the user-contributable applications layer was added. Drupal was obviously the work of a core group of people but again the third-party contributions outweigh those of the few that made it.

We already have e-mail and IM combined in Gmail and Google Docs covers the collaborative element so people might be thinking ‘what is so new, groundbreaking or beneficial about Wave?’ What’s your opinion on this?

Perhaps the real-time editing and updating process. Often times, it’s difficult to go back in a conversation and add to or fix something you’ve said earlier. But it’s not just a matter of rewriting the past – you can also go back and see what people said before they made an update (“rewind the Wave”).

Is Google heading towards unified communications with Wave, and is it possible that it will combine Gmail, Wave and Google Voice in the future?

I guess Wave could be one portion of a UC suite but I think the Wave idea doesn’t encompass all of the parts…

Do you think Google is looking to pull in conversations the way FriendFeed, Facebook and Twitter does? If so, will it succeed?

Yes, certainly Google have had interests in this area with their acquisition of Jaiku some time back (everyone assumed this would lead to a competitor to Twitter; most recently they made the Jaiku engine available as open source). I am not sure if Google intends to make available a single entry point to all public waves that would rival Twitter or Facebook status updates, but if so, it could be a very powerful competitor.

Is it possible that Wave will become as widely used and ubiquitous as Gmail?

It will take some critical mass to get it going, integrating it into Gmail could be a good first step.

And finally – is the game changing in your opinion?

Certainly, we’ve moved from frequently updated blogs (every few hours/days) to more frequently updated microblogs (every few minutes/seconds) to being able to not just update in real-time but go back and easily add to / update what’s been said any time in the past. People want the freshest content, and this is another step towards not just providing content that is fresh now but a way of freshening the content we’ve made in the past.

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New version of Recovery.gov launches

The new version 2.0 of the Recovery.gov site was launched today. I’ve been tracking recent happenings on Twitter and elsewhere, so here are some recent developments:

  • The new site is available here.
  • Rusty Talbot from Synteractive, the developers of Recovery.gov version 2.0, has posted a thread on the Sunlight Labs discussion forum asking for input from citizen developers regarding ways to make data available from Recovery.gov.
  • Nextgov have a great summary article about Recovery.gov’s call for data provision ideas with some interesting quotes from the individuals concerned.
  • Raymond Yee, a colleague of Eric Wilde and Eric Kansa at Berkeley, has published an interesting blog post with advice for Recovery.gov. They co-authored the report “Proposed Guideline Clarifications for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” earlier this year.
  • You can now follow Recovery.gov on Twitter.
  • The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB) also has a YouTube account. The first video message was posted featuring RATB Chairman Earl Devaney.
  • From a SIOC perspective, I thought this quote from Nextgov referencing Chairman Devaney’s statement was interesting, as there is an opportunity to semantically link the social media contributions from many users to the financial grants in question:
    Board Chairman Earl Devaney will appeal to his so-called citizen inspectors general — or anyone interested in rooting out fraud, waste and abuse — through social media outlets, including the video-sharing site YouTube. Individuals who would like to broadcast miniblog entries about the site through Twitter can do so using hash tag #ARRA. “Our goal here is to provide the facts and the tools for the public to decide whether that is a good use of the public’s money,” Devaney said in an interview with Nextgov earlier in September. “We’re going to put the facts and the tools up so that people can mash it up.” The functions should allow citizens to draw useful observations, such as, “That’s the mayor’s brother in law — I’m going to call the Recovery Board,” he said.


I previously gave some initial ideas about how grant feed data (following the Wilde / Kansa / Yee model) can be linked with user contributions using SIOC and FOAF. See this picture for an example. We also have a recently-created Linked Government Data initiative at DERI, NUI Galway carrying out research in this area.

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Interview with wetoku about BlogTalk 2009 (Jeju, Korea) and social software

I was interviewed by David Lee, founder of video interview site wetoku, this morning about the forthcoming BlogTalk 2009 in Korea.

(I apologise for the echo, I didn’t have any headphones so was causing some feedback.)

wetoku is a very interesting service that anyone can use, whereby interviews are simply carried out through a web browser that requests a connection to your webcam and mike. It shows the interviewer on one side and the interviewee on the other, and in a backchannel, the interviewee can ask questions of the interviewer via a text box (for clarifications, etc.: these are not shown in the final video). A nice review of wetoku was recently published on Read/Write Web. You can also follow @wetoku on Twitter.

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