Google describe their newest initiative as an “online tool for real-time communication and collaboration”. On a limited trial, released just over a month ago, Google Wave is currently being tested on an invitation-only basis and I have been fortunate enough to be trialling this new force in online productivity.
This development has opened up a world of possibility. Google Wave, having been dubbed the Twitter/Facebook killer, does not purport itself to be a new medium for social networking but more a space for people to converse, document and share media real-time.
Within the interface, users can create ‘waves’ which are interactive spaces where multiple users can add text, photos, maps, run surveys and much more. All this happens live so users can see each other’s posts to the Wave and can even edit these entries. The development of waves can then be played back to allow the participants to review progress or help new users get up to speed on the wave contents. A number of uses described on the Google Wave Preview site include organising events, managing group projects, photo sharing, meeting notes, brainstorming and interactive gaming.
Google Wave has a lot of innovative features, here are just a few:
– Real-time: In most instances, you can see what someone else is typing, character-by-character
– Embeddability: Waves can be embedded on any blog or website
– Applications and Extensions: Just like a Facebook application or an iGoogle gadget, developers can build their own apps within waves. They can be anything from bots to complex real-time games
– Wiki functionality: Anything written within a Google Wave can be edited by anyone else, because all conversations within the platform are shared. Thus, you can correct information, append information, or add your own commentary within a developing conversation.
– Open source: The Google Wave code will be open source, to foster innovation and adoption amongst developers
– Playback: You can playback any part of the wave to see what was said
– Natural language: Google Wave can autocorrect your spelling, even going as far as knowing the difference between similar words, like “been” and “bean.” It can also auto-translate on-the-fly
– Drag-and-drop file sharing: No attachments; just drag your file and drop it inside Google Wave and everyone will have access
For more information see this article.
Already, in these initial stages, we are starting to see the possibilities. SAP Research in Australia have developed a gadget to work within Google Wave that allow team members to collaborate on complex projects and build models to facilitate this. See this site for this example and others that include a wave based CRM, a platform for Project Management and live conference reporting.
To test the functionality of Google Wave, I recently used it with a friend from France to plan for his upcoming journey to Australia. We are created a wave to develop ideas for trips we can make during his stay while working around my schedule, aiming to take advantage of his time here. We added maps, images, and schedules and commented on each other’s suggestions. We found it worked more efficiently than sending copious amounts of emails and trumped chat, which can be difficult with the time difference, as we could edit and add to the wave in our own time. Even with this basic example, I hope you get an idea of the role Google Wave might be able to play in your own life.
Google Wave, coming soon! Be ready for the new wave.