Legend has it that when Thomas Edison created his phonograph he conceived of it as a method to record and playback messages between individuals.
Legend also has it that Alexander Graham Bell envisioned the telephone as a device useful for transmitting musical performances from concert halls to people in other locations.
In each case, the inventor completely misinterpreted the potential and future use of their invention. They mis-invented.
We may be witnessing a similar event now.
On 28 May 2009 Google unveiled a secret two-year development project named Google Wave. The product was conceived and developed by Lars and Gens Rasmussen, the same brothers who brought us Google Maps. Gens originally conceived of what became Google Wave as a re-invention of email. The 50 person development team largely followed this conceptual model, while leveraging their take on all the capabilities that modern computing enables.
What they ended up with made for a compelling, if very long, demo at the Google I/O conference. The truly curious or dedicated can watch the 1:20 (yes, that’s one hour and 20 minutes) demo here:
If the embedded player doesn’t work, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_UyVmITiYQ
Since most of you will probably miss all the fun in the video, I’ll summarize: they re-invented email.
What’s interesting though, and what makes Lars and Gens periously close to the next Thomas and Alexander, is while they were merrily re-inventing email, they created a global, real-time, collaborative, object/file/application/whatever sharing, open and extensible platform that can interface on any computing device. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?
The first part of that last paragraph will probably get a few of you thinking. Maybe even thinking enough to watch the video instead of that rerun of Conan. The rest of you no doubt noticed “free.”
There may or may not ever be a global shift from good old email as we know and curse it to Google Wave. But there most certainly will be some paradigm shifting things happening on the Google Wave platform when it gets released to the public around the end of the year.
A little mis-invention, anyone?