Solutions Looking For A Problem post

October 9th, 2009

(Personal note: wow, 2 weeks since I blogged something. Can you tell I've been in refactoring mode, not writing new code for work projects and finishing off my simball league season. (Go MAD!))

The intertubes have been all clogged-up with news about Google opening up limited access to Google Wave, and I am not too proud to admit that I attempted to get an invite by following certain people on Twitter. They never came through with that invite though. Oh well.

As cool as Google Wave appears to be, at it's very core I believe that it is a solution look for a problem. The solution as far as I can tell is a real-time mailing list where you can imbed all sorts of things into it. I imagine the technology behind it is very impressive (even noticed my friend Marc Grabanski commenting on Twitter that it appears to be using some of his open-sourced jQuery code) but I can't help but wonder what problem is this solving?

Is it a competitor for things like IRC or Campfire. I look at Google Wave and think to myself "wait until the spammers figure out how to exploit this". Perhaps a very cynical view, but I think it's a realistic one. But most of all, what problem is this solving that already exists?

As software developers, we all have lots of ego. It's what allows us to ignore mountains of code that provides solutions to the problems we face and instead plow ahead recreating those solutions because we are convinced that our problem is unique and existing solutions are unsuited for the task. Sometimes this is even true, and I tip my hat to those developers who create these kind of solutions. What category Wave belongs in depends on factors that are totally out of Google's control.

Before you get all "you are nothing but a hater, you old curmudgeon" I understand that technologies spring forth that end up being revolutionary. They often solve existing problems in very subtle ways and then some sort of tipping-point-event happens that shows how useful it is. Twitter is like that, having become a microblogging service that many people have figured out how to take advantage off (including myself). Until I can figure out the tipping-point-event for Wave, I remain convinced that it is a solution looking for a problem to solve. With any broadcast method on the net, the spammers WILL figure out a way to exploit it unless you can prevent people from having to hear their messages. Twitter is great for that because you can just ignore the spammers (which a lot of them don't seem to understand or even care about).

Google Wave reminds me of IRC with a prettier wrapper around it via a web-based interface. Is that really that earth-shattering? Not to me it isn't, but I am thinking that I am not the person that Google Wave is being aimed at.

If you care to, let me know in the comments why I should take a second look at Google Wave.