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Don’t bow to the Wave

Don’t bow to the Wave
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First Published: Fri, Oct 16 2009. 01 15 AM IST
Updated: Mon, Nov 02 2009. 06 00 PM IST
For the last two weeks, the Internet has been abuzz with geeks falling over each other to gain access to a brand new product from the venerable House of Google. The product is currently available only in test mode, complete with bugs, but already the tech-savvy denizens of Web 2.0 are begging and pleading to get one of the precious few invitations.
This latest Google-made opiate of the geek masses is called Google Wave. This is a brief description from the product’s Wikipedia page:
It is a Web-based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus supported by extensions that can provide, for example, robust spelling/grammar checking, automated translation between 40 languages, and numerous other extensions.
In other words, just when you’d finally got the hang of Twitter here is a brand new conundrum. Now, once again you’ll have to act like you totally understand Google Wave when talking to people who act as if they totally understand Google Wave:
Another Faker Without A Clue: Have you tried Google Wave? It’s amazing!
You: Er… indeed. I’m just blown away by it. It’s a game changer, if you ask me. I just Twittered about it.
Faker: And I put it on Facebook.
Both leave satisfied.
Google released 100,000 Wave invitations on 30 September. And these early adopters were given eight invitations each to give away. So crazy was the demand that people were even selling Google Wave invitations on eBay for $40-50 each. An apt joke would have been as follows:
Q: What is the difference between a Google Wave invite and the Nobel Peace Prize?
A: Anyone can get a Nobel Peace Prize.
But wait. What does Google Wave and the ensuing crazy frenzy have with you in the workplace? Why are we talking about this on Cubiclenama?
Simple. Google Wave is going to be the most destructive thing to ever hit the workplace. It is going to destroy cubicle life as we know it. The office-goer is doomed. Let me explain.
Think back to the time when your parents used to go to office. Remember how chill their lifestyles used to be? Irrespective of how things went at work, they’d come back home safe in the knowledge that at least till the next day the office was out of their system.
And even if things did go terribly at work, there was no way to do anything about it. All the files were at work. And the government-issued telephone at home has been waiting for a repairman since the time it conked off during the Gulzarilal Nanda government.
Later, with the widespread availability of phones, things got a little worse. But still, when the boss in Delhi said he wanted the sales report asap, he had to wait for the boys in Chennai to type, bind, pack, post and dispatch.
Things really got out of hand with email and mobiles. Boss wanted that report right now, via email, and if he didn’t get it, he’d instantly ring you up on the mobile. Panic and deadlines pressures overtook our offices and, now with BlackBerrys that combine the cruel efficiency of email with the unavoidable ubiquity of the mobile, our work lives suck like never before.
Google Wave, then, is the final nail in the cubicle coffin. Wave is real-time. Which means that the recipient of your messages on Wave can see the exact words as you type them. Again: AS YOU TYPE THEM. You don’t even get the two or three minutes delay between sending the email to the CEO, about the minor issue of having set fire to the SAP server during Diwali party, and him responding. He will know as soon as you start typing. Office communications, with the Wave, will be the most stressful thing EVER:
You typing on Wave: Unfortunately it appears that…
You: …it appears that the sales report for the month of August…
You: …for the month of August were emailed to you 10 minutes ago and…
You: …and the email bounced. Your inbox is full. Please clear it.
Boss: No problem. Resend it in five minutes. Thanks.
The workplace cannot afford further development in faster, more efficient communications. Human beings are not designed to work that way. I suggest you make every possible attempt to scuttle all attempts at implementing Google Wave, or any such real-time concept, at your workplace. In case you come by a Google Wave invite, DO NOT pass it on to the CEO or the IT heads. Instead sell it on eBay.
Or, even better, give it to me. I really could use one.
Cubiclenama takes a fortnightly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at cubiclenama@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Oct 16 2009. 01 15 AM IST