Facebook vs Google (Wave)

Google is losing the battle against Facebook and they know it very well. Just a few days ago Google unveiled their vision of the future of the Internet, that's Google Wave. Google Wave is an amazing communication and collaboration tool that could very well reshape the future of the Internet, though it has some important drawback at the moment: it doesn't exist yet.

However, when we think about the Internet it doesn't matter that much where we are (that won't last much longer) as where we are going. This is important too for other tools that are shaping the Internet as we know it, like Drupal. These are just some thoughts about where we are going and what does it all mean for Drupal, which is the part of the Internet I'm more involved with.

My absolute favorite tool to know what's going on and what will happen next is Google Trends. I use it for many things, but specially to know what's worth investing time and learning about it because it has some future and what not. A simple Google Trends graph of "facebook" and "google" speaks by itself.

Google Trends graph: Google vs Facebook

The fact is that at this moment, more and more people are using Facebook as their primary on-line experience, sharing and communications tool. Also, for many web sites, visits start coming more often from other sources like Facebook and Twitter than from Google and I think this is a very significant trend. In this context, we can clearly see the Google announcement as a "Wait, you don't need to move your life to Facebook yet, we are coming with something better, and it's open". I just wonder why it's taking them so long.

Google Wave, if successful, will redefine the way people works, collaborates, and shares knowledge across the net. Thus any other knowledge management and collaboration tool, the kind of things we build with Drupal, will be measured against Google Wave and eventually will need to work with it, either sharing content or directly integrating with its API.

Facebook has always had the focus on providing you with an on-line identity which allows you to interact with people and information. The trick is: once they've got your identity they own you. On the other side, Wave is supposed to be an open source tool and an open framework for collaboration. This means a big opportunity for other frameworks/tools like Drupal to play and integrate with.

So what does it mean for Drupal? Still nothing really, as competitions like this happen all the time so we just have to wait to see who wins and then play with the winner. However I have some expectations that more open technologies like Google Wave will eventually win and that will allow unlimited opportunities for integration making the web a more open and interesting playground.

On the other side if Facebook would make it and at some time in the future logging into Facebook would be synonym of getting on-line it could be a quite sad scenario on which there's a single company you need to play with. (Well, they've already made it as, I know it is a rough estimate, but half of the people spends half of their on-line life in Facebook. Just I hope it wont't last)

There's been always tries at "owning the Internet" and so far I think Facebook has achieved what no-one else has done before. They're what Microsoft would have wanted to be with tries like MSN (R.I.P.) or Passport (R.I.P.). This is not what happened with Google and search as Google has always provided just tools but never an on-line identity. I mean you can always drop Google and use some other service.

Anyway, I hope there will be always some space and demand for tools that these giants like Google and Facebook don't provide for free, or don't allow enough 'ownership' and 'customization' of your data so people, companies and organizations will still demand a custom web site. And yes, that's Drupal.

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