Monday, January 11, 2010

Google Wave--Killer App for Collaboration?

A student recently posted this link with an interesting application of Google Wave—thanks, Jeff! It reminded me that I needed to try to understand this new Google product. It’s still in preview, not yet in publicly-available beta, so if you want to try it, you have to request an invitation. As of mid-December Mashable said there were about a million users. The slow rollout limits the usefulness of a collaborative tool, but there’s quite a bit of buzz on the web about bugs and general difficulty of use. “Take it easy” seems to be a reasonable approach and Google makes it clear that they will get invitations out as they think the system is ready.

In Google-speak Wave is “equal parts conversation and document,” it is completely shared with all participants, and it takes place in real time. Google’s Dr. Wave explains and demonstrates. The video is better on the Google site, where it’s embedded in a use example (clever of them!), than on YouTube where you can’t see what “Dr. Wave” is pointing at.

Here’s a more fully populated example from Mashable. Mashable people have written extensively about Wave, although the link to their Complete Guide is broken at this writing.

Google says Wave can be used to arrange events, collaborate on projects, share photos, share meeting notes, brainstorm and play interactive games. Ok, but that’s not only generic, it’s more consumer than business oriented. Howard Greenstein has an excellent post on Mashable. It suggests potential business uses and gives a hypothetical example of a team preparing a client pitch from multiple locations. His conceptualization of modes of use is especially helpful, and there are other useful links at the bottom of the post.

Can Wave replace email and other collaborative tools like wikis? That’s not yet clear, but it’s clearly worth keeping an eye on—perhaps giving it a trial when it becomes more widely available!

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