At least from where I am on the net, I’ve had a hard time reaching the Groove Networks site most of the day (at least at reasonable speeds). Anyway, Jon Udell has an interview with Groove Networks founder Ray Ozzie, How Ray Ozzie Got His Groove Back. To quote,
Jon: If the objective is secure, yet spontaneous, collaboration that can work within and across corporate borders, Groove beats e-mail hands down — assuming everybody you need to communicate with runs Groove. The aim, of course, is to make Groove ubiquitous. But for the foreseeable future, it’s going to continue to be e-mail that makes the world go round. Groove can use e-mail as the vector for an invitation into a shared space, but otherwise doesn’t facilitate communication among mixed groups of Groove and non-Groove users. How can Groove best co-exist with the current e-mail habit, while at the same time reforming that habit?
Ray: As you are subtly implying, the best co-existence strategy is one of integration. And, as you say, this is specifically why we’ve embraced e-mail as a key mechanism for invitation into Groove shared spaces. That said, two mechanisms are available — albeit currently in prototype form — that will assist in bringing e-mail-based users into collaboration with Groove shared space users. As Groove matures over the upcoming months, we plan on integrating more and more of this level of function into our base tools.
First, it’s possible to send e-mail directly into a shared space (through a Relay Server) — provided an appropriate method of addressing the e-mail, and a cooperating tool within the shared space. Thus, e-mail users will be able to, in essence, send or “cc” e-mail directly to a group of users sharing a Groove shared space.
Second, if designed to do so, it’s a trivial exercise for a tool implementor to send a copy of shared-space activity to one or more external e-mail users, provided that they can format the content and activities in an appropriate way for the medium. Specifically, it’s easy to copy messages (e.g., discussion items and documents) to e-mail users. It is a bit more challenging to understand how one might copy sketchpad strokes, changes to outline items, or chess moves to e-mail-based participants.
1. The comment about chess moves is a bit perplexing given that there are literally dozens of programs designed specifically to communicate chess moves via e-mail. This would seem like a relatively straightforward and trivial problem to solve, not one that is especially challenging.
2. For some reason Udell doesn’t ask the interesting question — invitations and maybe part of the “shared-space activity” can be sent out via e-mail, but can someone restricted to e-mail send information back into the shared space?
From what I’ve read of Groove, it seems very interesting, but I hope the system can fully accomodate using e-mail as IMO it is the single most important tool in collaboration, and is almost certainly going to be so for the forseeable future (in fact barring ubiquitous extremely high speed Internet connections, I have difficulties envisioning any tool surpassing the usefulness of e-mail).