September 29, 2009, 9:30 pm
Many of the underlying standards that define modern e-mail technology were originally developed in the 1980s. Almost 30 years after the birth of SMTP, e-mail is still the dominant Internet communication medium despite its significant limitations and increasingly anachronistic design. Supplementary services like instant messaging and microblogging have emerged to fill in some of the gaps, but virtually no attempts have been made to build a holistic replacement for e-mail. Our most important day-to-day messaging infrastructure remains intractably mired in antiquity.
To advance the current state of Internet communication to the next level, it will take a truly audacious vision and highly sophisticated technology. The engineers at Google seem to have both. At the Google I/O conference earlier this year, the search giant unveiled a new prototype service called Wave, which aims to deliver a unified platform for next-generation messaging. The prototype, which is currently accessible to a limited number of users and is scheduled to open up for broader testing soon, is an intriguing communication tool that also provides compelling insight into the future of the Web.