Just saw a developer’s preview of Google Wave the new collaboration platform of Google, and I must say I was blown away. It is not often that I spend 1h20 watching a video on the internet. Most of the time my attention span drops after like 5 minutes, but what I saw got me hooked.
It is the first time that I see collaboration tool that has in it the things I want. I often misuse e-mail for chatting. You know the feeling. You send a mail to a colleague dealing with item x for project y and get an immediate response because the colleague happens to be online. Instead of switching over to instant messaging you continue e-mailing. I, for long, hoped there was like a magic switch to go from e-mail to instant messaging and back. Guess what Šthe guys of Google nailed it.
Google Wave brings together the different dispersed tools we are using now to exchange information and combines it into one platform. Consider all the tools you use to communicate. I use e-mail, instant messaging and I blog. Moreover, I share information in bulletin boards, wiki’s, social networks, through SMS and so on. Wouldn’t it be nice if you turn an instant messaging conversation into a blog article or go from SMS to a wiki’s.
There is a new interesting approach to communication imbedded in Google Wave.
If you look closely at e-mail you see it is nothing more than an electronic implementation of snail mail. You have a message that you sent out to a group of recipients. Recently E-mail clients became intelligent and can collate a group of mails, dealing with a common subject, together to make up the conversation. So you have a message sent to a network of people. The message is the basis of the conversation.
In Google Wave the communication is based on network of people that have a conversation about something. So you start with a network of people that will exchange messages. The set of users and the messages are what Google calls a Wave. The Wave is the basic object of the conversation.
The thing I really liked about the platform is that it is very interactive. When it’s chatting the other site has to wait until I press enter to see my response. In Google Wave they see me typing from the first key I press. There is intelligent real time spelling checking and correction in it. Multiple participants can edit the same document at the same time. So a discussion becomes a live discussion.
When participants are added to a conversation, they can playback the conversation and see who added or modified what in the shared documents. It is also possible to exchange private remarks with a subgroup of the participants in a Wave. The end-result of a Wave can be extracted without the comments of everyone and be added to, for example, a blog.
Google Wave is an open platform meaning that anyone can add functionality to it. This also means that everyone can create or host its own Wave server independent of Google. This is very interesting because private conversation between participants could be kept inside the company’s walls for a Wave spreading multiple companies working on the same project.
You should have a look at the Developer’s preview video located at http://wave.google.com/
If you know Google Wave was developed by the same guys that worked on Google Maps and it is an open platform, I can only say “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” The way people added functionality to Google Maps went far beyond the imagination of the original desigers. I think the same will be true for this platform.