Beyond Social— Kune

Note: this review was done using the platform in a demo environment. The experience may be different when used in production.

Every so often, we review the dustbin of history to see what ideas and technologies were passed over, and think about what could have been. Kune can be considered a continuation of Google Wave, and it is clear that this project wanted to expand on the initial vision for ad-hoc communication.

Kune is built on the Apache Foundation’s Wave in a Box project, and runs the Wave Federation Protocol. Wikipedia notes that the project is capable of federating with Apache Wave instances, and supports instant messaging with XMPP users.

The inbox reminds me of a combination of Google Docs and Google Chat. This is where you spend most of your time in Kune

The project bills itself as a social network, but a more accurate description would be a drop-in replacement for Google Apps. The layout and behavior of this gives the impression that every element in Kune is a document, but also a message. It all has a vaguely Google Docs-like design aesthetic.

The platform tends to emphasize group collaboration in an organizational capacity. Out of the box, it supports documents, collaborative wiki editing, calendars, messages, chats, tasks, forums, and barters.

The collaborative wiki was especially interesting, in the sense that it supports a wide range of embeddable data formats. In fact, every document in Kune can have Gadgets embedded into them to perform a number of functions, from running polls to collaborative image editing to complex data charts. Unfortunately, I was not able to get any of them to work.

Kune also features a built-in collaborative calendar, and a task management system for assignments. This could be useful for organizations that need a shared calendar to keep track of deadlines.

No groupware platform would be complete without a built-in human task management system.

The strangest element of Kune so far would have to be the bartering system, which I haven’t really implemented in much of anything before. In a nutshell, this allows users to create mutual contracts of value between one another: This could be along the lines of offering to sell something on Craigslist or Amazon, but in a more localized and decentralized manner.

No word on how you’re supposed to actually perform the transaction, or what “value numbers” are worth.

Overall, the instance that I tested was extremely buggy. None of the Google Gadgets loaded in Firefox, basic image uploads didn’t work, and I couldn’t find anyone to barter with. At this time, Kune feels more like a playground than a ready-for-prime-time communication system. Still, it is an interesting footnote of Google Wave’s own history, and the source code is available for anyone who would like to take a look.

Check out Kune: http://kune.ourproject.org/

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