Google wants us to catch its new 'wave'

November 2, 2009

by Mark Ollig

Brothers Jens and Lars Rasmussen, who created the popular Google Maps, have announced another potential revolutionary Internet web application.

They both recently made public, Google Wave, at a web developer’s conference in San Francisco.

In fact, they believe this new application will become more popular than e-mail.

Google Wave is currently in public beta testing mode.

“We asked ourselves the question, What would e-mail look like if it was invented today?” said Lars Rasmussen.

Public invitations for this demo period are currently filled, so even your humble columnist will have to patiently wait before using it.

It is expected that Google Wave’s final version will be released soon.

The “Wave” is described as “a specific threaded conservation.” This conversation can include one other person or a group of people exchanging pictures, links, and information while chatting simultaneously.

Wave is a real-time communication platform that combines features of email, web chat, Instant Messaging (IM), social networking platforms, and work-related project management into a single web browser communication application.

Google said Wave can also be used in an office “wiki” situation, where the wiki in this case is an intra-office computer server program. The office I work in has its own intra-office wiki which allows us to collaborate on work-related content via our company web site.

Google’s web site also states that a Wave is “equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.”

In the Wave, any contributor can reply anywhere in the message, change the content and add other people at any place in the progression of the Wave. The new person joining the Wave can use the Wave’s “playback” which allows anyone to “rewind the wave” to see who said what and when.

This is a pretty cool feature.

Another advantage of using the Wave over e-mail is that it is live. With live communication others see as you type, contributors on a wave conversation have faster conversations, and are able to see and contribute to any editing of content.

The interactions are all in real-time.

I will admit that Google Wave at first might seem a bit confusing – this is, after all, a new technology to be used over the Internet – but it is hoped the Wave will be a more productive way to collaborate with others in real-time.

This is anticipated to be a much better way to communicate, instead of having to wait for email responses, or sending separate e-mails with links or photos, or starting an IM session.

Google Wave has advantages over using IM, because it allows simultaneous interactions with more people and better sharing of resources and content also.

One of the Google Wave videos demonstrated the use of the Wave’s “polling” feature.

A person using Google Wave wanted to know how many people could make it to a RSVP event he was having.

The demonstration showed how quickly he was able to send this “wave request” out to his colleagues and gather their responses. These people were located all across the country.

The benefit shown was there was no waiting for e-mails, and the person organizing this event was seeing the results from others on his Wave application in real-time.

Uses of Google Wave include:

• Group Projects

• Photo Sharing

• Meeting Notes

• Organizing Events

• Brainstorming

• Interactive Games

To view a detailed presentation about Google Wave, check out Google’s one hour and 20 minute video on YouTube at: http://tinyurl.com/l5c5tc.

This Google video link does a good job of demonstrating some real-world uses of Google Wave.

You can also check out more information about the limited release of the Wave on Google at http://wave.google.com. This link will also allow you to sign up to request an invitation to try out Google Wave in beta as more invitations for beta testers become available.

This columnist did sign up, and Google promises to contact me when my Google Wave invitation has been accepted.

On the week’s Web Site of The Week, that ever-waving and high-flying Bits_blogger promised me he would have more details about the Google Wave.

So instead of saying “I’ll send you an e-mail or an IM,” we might start saying, “I’ll send a wave out.”

Stay tuned.