I saw something last night from Google that made perfect sense to me. It was that the same two brothers who were the brains behind Google Maps are the brains behind the next generation of email. It's called Google Wave and it is a brilliant blending of instant messaging, email, intelligent conversation threading and blog content management. It might have been more but I fell asleep watching the 80 minute video.
It solves a great number of problems that we emailers have been working our way around for 20 years and promises to put us on the Axiom for 700 years.
I have been considering the nature of a society, or a moment in time and a crevice of society, that celebrates and rewards toolmakers. And I think I have seen the end result. It oddly comes from another show that I watched last night (aside from Wall-E) which was on the Wealth Channel. It turns out that one of the guys that gets on the list for the most expensive cars in the world was showing off his Ferarri 430 Scuidera, his bright yellow Rolls and his Bugatti Veyron. All were customized to excruciating perfection, exactly the way he wanted it done. He kept referring to them as works of art, which they certainly were. This made them one of a kind and useful to nobody else in the world except as the ultimate status symbols, which was why they were on the Wealth Channel in stunning HD. The toolmakers in this case were celebrated by signing their names on the carbon fiber under the hoods next to the prominent steel embossed serial number plates. (His Bugatti was the fifth one imported into the USA). So, essentially and especially given the HD documentary, he has converted these automobiles into instant collectors items. The toolmakers don't have their tool's utility as its own reward, but the customization of it to please a completely other sensibility.
This sensibility has long been in evidence in the computing industry, which has long overproduced any dozen redundant technologies in 8 flavors. It is why the Linux world exists in such variety even though all we ever needed was Red Hat, a viable alternative to BSD, MacOS, Solaris, HPUX, AIX, System V and Windows. Instead there are some 3 or 4 dozen operating systems including the embedded world which is a complete mystery to me, each with dozens of programming languages. So it comes as no surprise that only the juggernaut of Google can do something utilitarian like perfect email once and for all. Further it comes as no surprise that it only takes two or three really smart people to do it.
So what is Web 2.0 and all that social software and clouds and grids all about?
That's a big question for another day, but the short answer is the computer equivalent of suburban sprawl. Nobody, save perhaps the NSA, has sat down and built an actual computer and software system from the ground up for 40 years. There is no planned community. There are only applications and marginal evolutions of applications for an interoperable world that has 60 ways to do the same thing which frustrate us all into looking towards Google to finesse them all back together in unifying ways. Surprise.
But Google is not going to do that, which is why I mentioned the NSA. You see outside of getting applause, stock options and face time at conferences, the rock stars of software development have no transcendent purpose. Only those who have had such purposes have really mattered, and I think we are in short supply these days. So it makes me wonder exactly how Google defines the 'evil' they will not do. It's certainly inclusive of the 'evil' the NSA must do.
From a technological perspective, Google is the embodiment of infinite scalability. Its compute engines are the Saturn Five of the computing world made all the more impressive by their tethering of millions of actual horses to make the horsepower rather than giant, fallible boosters. But I am confounded by the idea that the Rasmussen brothers, the brains behind Google Wave, would be so satisfied with the Google compute environment for what it is that their minds conceive a compute beast with such power could do. It's the old trade off of what kind of millionaire you want to be - the rap star wants $17 worth of respect from 5 million fans. The investment advisor wants $5 million of respect from 17 clients. They have obviously decided to catch the attention of the twittering masses.
So what is the transcendent purpose of making email, instant messaging and blogging incrementally simpler for 50 million Google users? Surely that will not enable one more significant writer on the planet.
This is what I notice every time a new Web 2.0 3.x or whatever program comes out of the software programming world from American rock star programmers, and was at the very beginning of this demo. It's all about 'Hey let's find a new restaurant' or 'Check out my vacation pictures'.
I think I've made my point.
So how about Google Medical Records, bitches?