Google waves hello to online etiquette and fairy dust

Search giant to include new features in Wave to enhance online privacy

Google's highly anticipated real-time communication and collaboration tool, Google Wave, will have "crypto fairy dust" sprinkled into its protocol to avoid data being changed mid-stream, according to its product manager.

Speaking to the media at Google’s Sydney office, Google Wave product manager Greg D’Alesandre, said the technology’s security input has been built from the ground up to the point where the entire communication channel is encrypted by https.

“Every single piece of information that you’re getting on a Wave from another Wave server has authentication information built into it, so you know you’re getting the Wave from the person who sent it to you and you know it was not changed mid-stream,” D’Alesandre said.

Google is also trialling an etiquette system to address the issue of privacy between multiple participants on a large discussion thread, who also have the ability to edit one another’s content.

D’Alesandre said Wave invests a lot of screen real-estate to show who can see the active discussion. However, he admitted that privacy controls are useless if people do not understand them.

“Every time a Wave is published externally, so that more people can see it, we put a banner up the top, so that anyone typing a Wave will immediately know that it has been published,” D’Alesandre said.

The Web-based application is designed to consolidate features from e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, wikis, multimedia management and document sharing. Using social networking-like interfaces, the tool aims to enable collaboration and community-building applications.

Google has not yet indicated when Wave will be available to the general public, but there are around 100,000 users and developers currently previewing the technology.

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Kathryn Edwards

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