CXO

Google Wave: Surfer's dream or just the kiddie pool?

Have you heard of Google Wave? Derek Schauland takes a crack at explaining what it may offer that is different from other collaborative tools and how it could be useful. Are you planning to check out the Wave when it becomes available? Take the poll.

Google made some big advancements with applications like the Reader and Gmail over the past few years, and now they are hoping to do it again with Wave. I took a look at Google Wave and some of the features it is likely to offer. Keep in mind that, as of this writing, Wave is released to developers and is still in early beta, so things may change before it is generally available.

What is Wave?

Google Wave is a communication and collaboration tool designed to aggregate content from multiple streams, like mail, chat, search, pictures, and other areas, and share it with other people you choose, or those on your "wave."

Anyone you have added to your Wave will be able to reply in context to anything on the shared stream or edit the content at any time. I haven't seen any indication of editing being controllable at this time, but it would make sense for this to be added to allow some security in documents that you just want others to read.

I can share via IM or e-mail so why use Wave?

The biggest reason I can see to give Wave a chance would be live sharing. Suppose I am working on a document with a team of individuals from all around the country and need to get their feedback during a working session. If the documents are shared using Wave, the transmission is happening in real time to all people on the project.

The nicest part is a participant's ability to reply anywhere they feel necessary, in context or through editing of the shared content. With Wave there is no waiting for e-mail messages to be seen or voicemails returned.

Another feature of Google Wave that I see as being extremely useful is playback. When working with a group of people on a document, if someone steps away for a phone call and needs to get caught up they have the ability to play back content in Wave to see what happened while they were away. Think of this like Tivo for documents or shared sessions. Being able to play back changes to see what was happening on the stream will save time and not require other parties to "catch you up."

Will Wave take off?

Whether Wave will be popular or not is anyone's guess at this point. I think it has a ton of potential to move documents and collaboration to the Google cloud. Sure, Google Apps allows multiple people to share a document, but being able to share the entire document, track its history of changes, and participate in any conversation that goes along with it might make quite a difference for some teams and types of projects.

I will likely be one of the early adopters when Wave hits public beta to see if the features are worth their salt. The concept of managing communication by party rather than by message or even by conversation could put Google ahead of the rest, but it may take a long time for a majority of people to find real-time collaboration a useful tool.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

17 comments
jfreedle2
jfreedle2

It is by Google, so therefore you know you can't trust it.

billy
billy

Hasn't Lotus Notes been doing this for many years?...

Derteufel
Derteufel

"The nicest part is a participant?s ability to reply anywhere they feel necessary, in context or through editing of the shared content. With Wave there is no waiting for email messages to be seen or voicemails returned" So instead of waiting for a call or e-mail, youre waiting for a reply? Eitehr way...

darpoke
darpoke

a document open, and having the relevant changes appear in it alongside all your previous work. What's hard to grasp about that? It's fewer steps than voice- or even email.

meunster
meunster

The author's biggest reason for needing Google Wave already exists. It is called Google Docs.

edmicman1
edmicman1

But Google Docs isn't private, even for the paid version - they're still on Google's servers. You could set this up on your own servers, and have it all internal. I'm SOOOOO excited about the potential for this, especially for businesses. It's like what everyone's trying to already accomplish by mashing up email, IM, wikis, and blogs, but having it built that way from the ground up rather than the half-assed solutions we currently have. Maybe Exchange already does this, but how many places have Exchange "installed", but use or have it configured for anything more than email and shared calendaring and contacts? I could immediately use this for general use. I currently have a dozen different open projects/tasks/whathaveyou. Our workflow essentially revolves around email, going back and forth, involving anywhere from two to a dozen people who may have varying levels of relevance to whatever it is we're doing. We email documents back and forth with revisions. Sure, we could use some of Office's tracking, or use a file share, or doc versioning, or something. But it's easier to email a copy to everyone every iteration. Conversation tracking in Outlook sucks - especially over tons of emails spanning weeks or more. The way I see it, I could create a dedicated wave for each task or project, and then everyone could track it's progress and flow in that. If they manage to build some sort of task or calendar management into Wave, too, this will be huge. *Wave* could potentially be that Outlook/Exchange killer that everyone talks about.

matt.glaze
matt.glaze

Don't forget that Google is making this technology completely open. Meaning that a competitor could setup a Wave site, have it function exactly like Google Wave, and charge their customers for the service. If this were something like Google Voice that only Google offered, then as cool as the technology is, I might be a bit skeptical of its true dominance in the world of online communication. But since Google is approaching this with the same mindset that email was developed under; creating an open platform that anyone can use; well, you can bet this is going to blow up just about everywhere. Anyone who's interested in adapting to new communication technologies, get your sites set on Wave.

cappiels
cappiels

Does anyone know if Wave be able to handle synchronous & asynchronous audio & video messaging/conferencing ? I didn't see or hear mention of that yet. I think THAT would be freaking amazing-- especially if it was native. If they are trying to create a revolutionary communication medium, shouldn't that be included from the ground up?

jgrozik
jgrozik

Information in the context of its creation. One of the more powerful features of Google's Wave. Very interesting!

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I think the Wave idea is the first web 2.0 app that i am actually excited about. Looks cool to me. Be neat to be able to set up private Waves. It looks more like what email and instant messaging should have been.

fiona
fiona

I'm Sydney (Australia) based and have had a couple of talks/demos from wave lead developers and whilst I feel csmith has taken the words out of my mouth; it does however still look raw and with many issues unresolved. Which to be fair is what I was told it was from the google dev guys. But open sourced and easily hosted private wave implementations with both in-house and community add-ons (think appleApp store) and this could be a Tsunami.

rhys
rhys

Security I have only read bits and pieces but if I have it correct the wave protocol has built in security. My readign is the protocol requires a sender to authenticate on the wave server. Right now wave is 100% spam free. The community can feasibly adopt a zero/very low tolerance on servers that allow users who send spam, largely eliminating the problem. Imagine how much money Google (and anyone else who runs a wave server) could save if spam was not an issue. Personally a replacement for email that secures messages is the biggest advance I see in wave. Privacy Wave can give the same privacy as email with private "wavelettes". You can create a wavelette that only specified members of the wave can see. User acceptance For everyone who is not comfortable with instantaneous IM style collaboration wave can mimic the batch approach of email by only making changes apparent when you "send" the wave. Open Source Wave protocol is or will be open. If I have read correctly Google will also make an open source wave server available. This does not mean that it will be "completely open". There are no guarantees that the wave server Google will use will have the same functionality as the wave server they release to the public. Open source, and many eyes, means there will likely be additions in time. This does not replace dedicated developers. PDF is an open format, anyone can write PDF but it was only recently that I saw anything open source that comes close to touching Adobe. Be prepared to wait.

FatNGristle
FatNGristle

Sounds like a more end user, consumer friendly version of Sharepoint. I have to say I LOVE the cloud idea of putting all my valuable information on someone else's computer, particularly in these days of identity theft & malware assault. Nope, no fear here; What could possibly go wrong? That survey needs work. It needs options "Sounds neat, but I don't trust Google", "Could be great if very secure","I'll try it but not for anything important" etc. PS. I meant for this post to be root level.

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