Google Wave

Google Wave logoAt the Google I/O conference this week, Google gave a preview of Google Wave, a new communication and collaboration platform planned for release later this year. Google intends for the platform to be open-source, and is encouraging developers to contribute to the platform through a set of APIs. Those developers who are interested can sign up for access to a sandbox environment, where they can get their feet wet and where they can test their creations.

With Google Wave, Google appears to have reimagined email, instant messaging, and a host of related online communication media. Why allow email to be constrained by the limitations of SMTP or IMAP? Why should email and instant messaging even be considered separate concepts? In Google Wave, messages are called waves, and a wave can contain all kinds of content from any number of participants. A wave could be a conversation, a document on which several people collaborate, a poll, a bug report, or a photo gallery.

Google’s engineers admit that during the development of Google Wave, even they found it difficult to step beyond their preconceived notions of email and instant messaging. Each of these means of communication has its limitations, and each has applications to which it is well suited. Google Wave is envisioned to be a superset of many of the communication media that preceded it. Some potential uses of Google Wave weren’t apparent to the developers until they had been using the platform for a while.

I’d argue that most of the potential applications have not yet been envisioned. By open-sourcing the platform, Google seems to want to attract the same kind of participation from third-party developers as with the mobile Android platform.

In my eyes, Google Wave could be a potential long-term threat to Facebook. Google’s social networking platform Orkut never gained much of a following (outside of Brazil). Google Wave no only integrates with Orkut, but stands to make it mostly obsolete. With extensions, Google Wave could provide all the capability of Facebook and more. Heck, developers could even provide Facebook-originated content inside of waves. If Google Wave catches on, the next few years will be very interesting ones.

Update 2009-06-01 05:32 UCT—The Google Wave team appear to be fans of the short-lived but excellent Firefly television series. See the Google Wave Wikipedia article for details. Lisa A. brought this my attention. Thanks, Lisa!


ZRL Ambigram

ZRL Ambigram, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Next Tuesday will be the official laying of the cornerstone of the new NETL building at ZRL. To commemorate the occasion, I designed a ZRL ambigram. During the ceremony, a time capsule will be placed in the foundation. A print of my ambigram will be placed in the time capsule, along with a bunch of IBM memorabilia and examples of pop culture from circa 2009.

Update 2009-06-04 15:25 UCT—The time capsule has been encased in concrete in the foundation of the new building. Some of my photographs of the foundation-laying ceremony have been posted.


A fun coincidence

_MAL5693, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

I went to Slussen bus station in Stockholm on my way to José’s party. There, I met up with two others who were going to the same party. When I took out my phone to check the time, the others laughed. They then took out their phones and I knew why: we all had the same model of Nokia phone, only in three different colors. I simply had to take a photo.


A poignantly beautiful day in Stockholm

Today is such a beautiful day that it makes me want to cry. These are the days I live for.

This morning I had coffee out in the sun with freinds at Eriksberg, in a little outdoor garden with purple lilac and chestnut trees. At noon, I walked down to Kungsholmen for lunch with Ayse at an outdoor street café. We ate seafood stew with rice, drank sparkling water, and watched the people walk by. Stockholm is great for people-watching when the sun is shining. After lunch, we walked to a café where we shared a slide of carrot cake and drank caffe lattes. I'm tired from spending a few hours outside in the sunshine. When I got back to Malin's place, I crashed on her couch and dozed for a bit.

Now I'm looking out of her sixth floor window as I rest a bit before catching my flight back to Zürich. This has been a perfect trip. I only wish I could have met more of my friends while I was here. I hope to return for a long weekend in June, and plan to spend two weeks in Sweden at the end of July.

I'm excited about returning to Zürich. The weather there has been even warmer than in Stockholm, and there will surely be opportunities for swimming in the coming days.

I'd like to give a shout-out to my friends Joanna and Malin, who kindly let me crash at their apartments for a few days. It's nice to have such thoughtful and generous friends. I look forward to my next visit!


Zürich in the sunshine

_MAL3705, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

When I first visited Zürich for the job interview at ZRL, it was a rainy and cold couple of days; I wondered if I really wanted to move from one rainy and cold city to another.

I’m pleased to report that when the sun comes out, Zürich is  positively beautiful city. On Sunday I joined some colleagues for little hike up to the summit of Üetliberg, from whose lookout tower I captured this photo of the city below.


Linea Salsa’s last social of the season

_MAL3136, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Way back when in the beginning of December, I went to Linea Salsa’s social—only my second time to go out salsa dancing after moving to Zürich. Since then, I’ve danced at the Polyball, the Zürich Salsa Festival, the Sugar Lounge, and X-tra. But for some reason I had not returned to El Social in Altstetten until last night.

Part of the reason I hadn’t gone to the Linea Salsa socials more often might have been that they are held only once per month—on the first Friday of the month. When I saw that last night’s social would be the last before the summer break, I knew that I had to take the opportunity to do some dancing!

I’m very glad I returned, because I became acquainted with some very nice people last night. Having had the benefit of a second visit, I can say that the atmosphere of Linea Salsa is very similar to that of Happy Feet and SalsaAkademien’s Thursday socials. There are lots of good dancers and most of them are very friendly. It’s possible to buy beverages including beer, wine, and champagne; but most people drink in moderation to save themselves for dancing. For the most part, people who go to Linea Salsa are there to dance. And—importantly for me—the environment is not hazardous to one’s health: the music is played at a reasonable volume, and smoking is not allowed.

I met some of the organizers of the event, including a very friendly chap named Daniel. I also met two more photographers from salsapictures.ch. I think I will learn more about this group; they seem like my kind of crowd—interested in dancing and photography too!

And of course I danced with many charming and talented women—from relative beginners to ladies who were miles beyond me in ability. Lots and lots of fun. I’m a bit sad that I missed all of the Linea Salsa socials in the intervening months since December, and even sadder to know that I must wait until the next one.

Ninety photos from last night are now online.