What I don't get about Wave: Robots

(Originally written as a comment on Writing a Wave Robot @ Science in the open.)

I think that having applications in the cloud edit what I wrote is wrong on many levels.

Obviously, trust in the robot provider is the biggest issue here.

Then, bugs in the robot implementation run the risk of completely destructing our data (which is balanced somewhat by Wave’s unlimited undo/playback, IIUC).

Then, this makes auditing content much more difficult, since robot contributions aren’t clearly marked (unless all robots use some common annotations…). Wave proposes the playback feature to discover the trail of changes that led to the current state, but I think that’s a bad idea: I don’t want to watch a possibly very long animation just to see who wrote what (Note: all of this is based on my limited understanding of Wave, which I haven’t tried yet.)

Then, there’s the engineering question of what happens to the robot-generated content when I edit what I wrote. The robot will have to reparse the text, and update its inserted content. But I may have moved, edited, etc, that content by purpose or accidentally. I think that’s just a big stupid mess altogether.

1 comment:

Cameron Neylon said...

Manuel, apologies for taking so long to put your comment up and respond. Have been away from decent network connectivity for a few days. Here is the response I put up at my place:

Manuel, any modifications and who or what triggered them are all available in the Wave document. I do agree that good robots should clearly annotate what they have done and what they modified in the process. That’s what I was trying to say above. When it hits mainstream I think there will be a lot of Robots that work at marking up a Wave to show who did what and when. The visualisation will be a challenge but I don’t think it is insurmountable.

Simultaneous edits may be a problem but again its a design issue not something that is impossible. Most of the robots we’ve built so far only act when a blip is submitted, mainly I think because people are a bit scared of exactly what you suggest. Having thought about though I have wondered whether real time character by character interaction might be easier. I haven’t tried it yet though!

Finally I think you probably either like the idea of dynamic documents that can be modified, enhanced, (or broken) by independent agents or not. If you are concerned about control then this is going to worry you. If you are excited by the potential for independent agents to make your life easier then you will be excited. Obviously we want to maximise the positives while minimising the problems (which are serious and real) but really people are only going to buy into this if they want to see the nature of documents change. That’s something I want which is why I’m excited. If it isn’t, and the issues worry you more than the potential excites you, then Wave really isn’t for you.