Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What is Google Wave

What is Google Wave

Google Wave is a new Communications Platform. Wave is a new paradigm - different from email, IM, chat, and Twittering.

What is Google Wave Like

Wave is the only non-linear communications platform. Wave communication is not ordered over time. Instead, it is stateful - a wave has a current state, which you see. It is also possible to linearize the wave, by using playback, and see it change over time.

How is Wave Like Email

You can use wave like email, in that you have an inbox and can see wave updates from when you were off line. You can have a ping-pong (back and forth) conversation using wave, in much the same way as you do email. Attachments can be added to a wave. Waves have a participant list, just like email routing lists.

Wave replies, however, can be to a specific portion of the wave, not the whole wave, or to a reply itself. Waves get dissected this way into their useful parts.

How is Wave Like Chat/IM

Wave communication is real time - even more real time than chat - waves update keystroke-by-keystroke. This allows you to be productive, and make waves much more like talking in person to someone.

What Makes Wave Unique

Since wave isn't confined to linear communication, waves can take many forms. Linear waves appear like emails or chats. Non-linear waves look like shared documents, updated in real time.

Wave also has APIs for embedding into applications, or adding gadgets. An example of a gadget would be a poll, or language translator.

What is Wave Useful for

I think Wave will have two primary uses. First, for flexible distributed communication, Wave beats email or chat. It has the power to do both and more. It fits the bill to allow you to take notes, share with others, communicate over time, and then switch to real time collaboration - all the while using the same tool, the same document. Today, we create docs in Open Writer, email them to colleagues, incorporate their changes, and chat with them about their suggestions. The information is stuck in numerous places.

I'm particularly interested in using wave on open source projects, to help build and sustain the community.

Second, for document sharing, this is looking very promising. I attended a Webinar today, took notes in Wave. I can modify them over time, share with colleagues who couldn't attend. They can view this wave, edit it, ask questions about it all in that document. This is very promising.

Will Wave Take Over

No. Wave is useful, but its not simple. Simple == popular. Useful takes a long time to win over. Wave doesn't have the ten-second Twitter explanation. Your parents won't be waving any time soon.

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