RIDING THE GOOGLE WAVE
You may have heard some of the talk about Google Wave -- but if not you probably will soon enough.
The product made waves when announced and demoed in late May at a Google developer conference. Developers -- who usually maintain a skeptical reserve about new product releases -- interrupted the demo several times with applause and cheers.
In September, the universe of test accounts will be expanded by 100,000, and the volume of chatter about Google Wave is sure to increase. Later this year, it will launch to the public.
I can’t wait. Google Wave, billed as a real-time communication platform, seems to address many of the shortcomings of enterprise-level communication and collaboration -- shortcomings I’ve dealt with repeatedly at businesses where I’ve worked.
We all rely on e-mail, but how many times have you seen a document forwarded around for comments by multiple parties, and tried to keep track of all the various individual contributions whilst finishing the activity promptly?
We all want to make documents accessible to everyone on the team, but how many times have you or a colleague lost track of the most recent version?
Perhaps you have an intranet, but how many people really use it regularly? It’s usually just a separate, and not very exciting, place to go to when required.
How do conversations take place in your company? Yes, people can just go talk to each other, but how does one record the really important things that are said? Maybe someone will send around a thoughtful email -- until everyone piles on with replies and cc’s until someone screams, “Enough!”
(At a past company I worked for, an enlightened executive created the Email Misery Index. The EMI was the number of recipients, multiplied by the number of replies, on a message thread. The higher the EMI, the more misery the thread was inflicting.)
All Your Conversations In One Place
Google Wave seems to bring it all together. Conversations that previously would have been buried in email inboxes take place instead in the open in Google Wave. Each conversation is known as a “Wave.”
Collaborators can be added to or subtracted from a Wave. Documents can be incorporated into a Wave, as well as photos, video and other media. Documents can be edited within the Wave, by multiple collaborators, so that the latest version of the document is clear and everyone’s changes are noted.
A Wave can be rewound, so that participants can see how the conversation progressed and what changes were made along the way.
Messages can be viewed in real-time as they’re being typed -- thus making it a live conversation. Of course this feature can be turned off when needed, so people won’t be forced to see you thinking out loud.
Everything’s stored in the cloud, so that you know where to find it when needed. Although some people have concerns about storing important documents and data online with a provider such as Google, I’m happy to have the convenience of keeping everything accessible to myself and my colleagues wherever we are, and being able to easily add and share with others.
Google has released Wave into the wild as an open standard which should stimulate much development around it. We should see many third-party applications written for Wave or incorporating elements of Wave into their own functionality.
Presuming it works as promised, I envision moving my email activity onto Google Wave and aiming to move my company onto it quickly. It will probably put our fairly static company intranet to rest in favour of Wave’s much more dynamic and collaborative environment.
For more about Google Wave, visit Google’s official site at http://wave.google.com/.
Mashable also has a great roundup of Google Wave news here: http://mashable.com/2009/05/28/google-wave-guide/