This is a grand and ambitious plan. From a quick look at the Draft Protocol, here's the rough game plan:
- the traditional MIME-based email structure is replaced by wavelets (an atomic message, with multiple documents inside) and operations (a change delta between versions of a message).
- SMTP is replaced with XMPP.
- IMAP is replaced with "Request elements" against the Google Wave server.
Is this better than the MIME + SMTP + IMAP? I think so.
Here are some big open questions that I'd like to know an answer to:
- What's the migration path to Google Wave? This is clearly aimed at replacing email as your main tool. If I'm currently using Exchange or Google Apps for my domain, is there going to be an easy way to switch over to Google Wave?
- Authentication across servers: Can any server publish to any other server? How can a client or a server access waves on another server and restrict access to validated users?
- Could this architecture worsen the spam problem: Can't spammers just publish a bunch of waves to another server? I'm not familiar enough with XMPP to answer this.
Lastly, I'm very happy that with reMail, I'm not stepping on Stephanie's and Douwe's toes, but working on the orthogonal problems of better priorization, better search, and better views of your email data. Good.
Update: As for my points about spam and authentication: In IM-like fashion, users need to be added and removed from a wave by someone already a part of the wave (see the addparticipant / removeparticipant calls in the spec). Thus, spammers won't be able to spam existing waves. I'm still not sure who can initiate waves and invite participants - anyone from any server? Or is there some spam protection mechanism I'm missing?
Update 2: Maybe a better way to look at this is taking email, which people have been abusing as document transmission + versioning + IM, and rolling those features into the core protocol. Instead of messages, we create a document and send around deltas of it. Just like SVN, but with better views and features.
Update 3: I need to look through my inbox and figure out what % of conversations and use cases this would solve for me. A lot of my email is external notificiations ("someone sent you a Facebook message"), which Google Wave wouldn't improve. Google Wave's use case is clearly collaborative work and decision making.
Update 4: I just had a Scary Thought. Maybe the masterplan isn't to migrate everyone over from email, but to create a parallel world of Google Wave. Ugh. Another inbox to check, in addition to email + RSS + twitter + Facebook + bug tracker + Hacker News.
Update 5: Just saw this comment on HN. A pretty good summary, if a bit too negative.