Waving at the Buzz, outside the Cloud

Twitter had it’s usually data twasm when Google announced their new Buzz application which marks Google’s hard push in to some form of social media dominance (Don’t be seem evil?) Buzz might very well be useful for collaboration, but it seems like a lot of hype over integration of tools that already exist. I’d be like if I put a hammer, a wrench, and two screwdrivers in a box, held a press conference and told the world that I’d just created the ultimate tool, which I call the BuzzBox. In fact, Microsoft and Yahoo! are already asking what the big deal is as they’ve had these options available in their email systems for some time now. Of course, they aren’t good Google. Microsoft is the neighborhood bully and Yahoo! is the kind of quiet little brother that just sort of goes along with what over-achieving bigger brother Google is doing.
But all this reminded me of the last hypefest with Google in the form of Wave. The much sought after, invitation-only product that Google showed off to thunderous applause, that once the great majority of us got access, we just looked at it and thought, “Hmm, okay, might be worthwhile in awhile; a long while.” But, I bring up mention of Wave as when I first accessed it, I was in San Francisco, bopping along on my low-latency 3Mb connection. Now I’m in Côte d’Ivoire on what is in theory a 1.2Mb line which feels more like a 256Kb (or less) line that oft drowns in latency. Then there is now, when I’m writing this offline, as the connection is completely dead.
What I am about to say should not come as a surprise in that Google Wave sucks a great deal from here. It takes about two minutes for the main interface to load and from there on it’s quite lagging. Unfortunately, as everyone I know threw in the towel on Wave, it’s hard to test out any real conversations on the thing. One thing is clear though in that as more applications like Wave are developed (and there will be more) the barriers to information access will go up. I covered all of this in an older article because it’s a rather massive problem that no one is addressing. People are just more in awe of postulating about what The Cloud will mean to data when they should be asking how hard it will screw the vast majority of the world in accessing their data.
Where I am, with this connection, I am lucky. It’s generally okay for web and email interactions. I can even call my family (sparingly) on Skype. Video is a hit and miss affair depending on the time of day. But for these ajax-heavy, GUI-rich environments, it nose dives. And this is a really good connection outside of North America or Europe. Imagine for people on satellite or other systems.
So, how do we address this? Despite the good counter articles by Steve and Andi, the answer is not SMS in any way shape or form. The final answer is information technology deployment for connectivity around the world. This is not only expensive, but will also take a great deal of time and many nations are already missing out on certain elements of it, such as Côte d’Ivoire who didn’t get a landing node for the new GLO-1 cable, which is going to seriously bite their decently strong technology scene in the digital butt.
But, until the day arrives when the billions of us have immediate information access to the entire wealth of human knowledge, developers need to be mindful in maintaining an accessible internet. We need to optimize sites for those with slower connections to guarantee them access until the day that their throughput catches up. I know it sucks to create multiple versions of a site, but think of it as a more worthwhile expenditure of time. Much like being multilingual, multi-bandwidth is a method to get your system and product in to the hands of more people, because really, the internet markets are quite saturated in North America and Europe. A first half of the 21st Century business model needs to develop for multiple tiers of bandwidth. Despite the clunkiness of Wave, Google gets this with their current, live products. Twitter gets this as well. Facebook also gets this. If your company doesn’t, then you have problems.
Waving at the Buzz, outside the Cloud