Have you received your invitation yet to preview the much hyped and anticipated “beta” release of Google Wave? Do you even understand what Google Wave is? Well … now’s the time to investigate this new collaborative web 2.0 application as it is innovative and feature-rich.
Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. (http://wave.google.com/help/wave/about.html)
Here is a quick video to provide you with a quick overview of its concept:
Google cleverly rolled out the beta version of this new “cutting edge” application on September 30th, by invitation only. This maneuver created a huge buzz in the social media community. Since only 100,000 invitations were released, many people don’t have access to Google Wave yet, and that is causing quite a stir. In fact on Twitter, Google Wave has been a “top ten” trending topic for quite some time.
I have been experimenting with the application off and on all week. Here is my first look at this intriguing new tool:
- Real-Time Communication — Unlike email, or online chat applications, a user can literally see the keystrokes of their colleagues as they are typed. So the project unfolds right before your eyes. I think this feature is more novel than it is functional. The downside is when users make typing mistakes you can see those as well. The concept, though, is interesting and intriguing.
- Collaboration at its finest — Google takes the concept of co-creation in a real-time setting to the next level. No longer do users have to send documents back and forth, or wait their turn to make an edit/addition to its content. Multiple users may edit a “wave” simultaneously which is a breakthrough in electronic communications.
- Open Source Environment — Similar to Twitter, Google created this application with the aim of leveraging open sourcing for its further development . Therefore it is likely this tool will evolve rapidly!
- Miles of Functionality — one of the most amazing things about Google Wave are its gadgets, extensions and Robots. From embedded video to Twitter feeds, a user can integrate a multitude of features into their waves. A great place to review some of these cool add-ons is on the original Extensions site or on Wavety.com.
- Playback Feature — With every wave created it is possible for users having access to that document to click a “playback button” and watch the evolution of the document step-by-step. This is a useful feature when members of a wave group are not able to participate in a collaboration session, or want a refresher on the history of the wave.
- Buggy — Remembering this application is still in “beta testing” phase it does feel like that. Little things will confuse you, such as the inability to “undo” something you have created, which really is a staple of any application nowadays. Also it is not possible to always “cut or copy” and paste from within a wave. That can be frustrating! I am sure Google will fix all these problems before too long.
- Laggy — This is a problem. When you open a wave with many users present, the experience can be very slow…. killing the value of the real-time aspect of this application. Before Google unveils this to the public they must find a way to improve the bandwidth and connection speed. Major Issue!
- Browser Compatibility — this issue is minor, but if you are an Internet Explorer user (ugh) you must download a “google chrome frame workaround in order to use Google wave. Personally I recommend using Mozilla’s Firefox or Google’s Chrome as the browser of choice for Google Wave.
- No “Undo” Feature — This is a very painful issue with Google Wave. The freedom of expression and maneuverability in the application is one of its most enticing features… it is also one of its most dangerous. Once invited into a “wave” a user can literally edit anything they want in a document. It is not possible to undo any changes. The only workaround I am aware of is to use the “playback” feature to find the missing content and copy it back to the wave. With a complex document this could become very cumbersome.
No question there is incredible potential for Google Wave. In particular I see some great opportunities for its use in Meetings and Events. Also in business collaboration, I believe it is going to greatly enhance the “crowdsourcing” concept of communications!
If you have not received an invitation to preview Google Wave, then you need to start working your marketing channels in the social media world to obtain one. If you have a Google Wave account and an experience or perspective for its use please share it with us.