25 November 2009

Wave! Huh! Yeah! What is it good for?

I've been using Google Wave for a few weeks now, and at the moment it is definitely in the "Fax Machine" stage of development, as in the first fax machine was pretty useless until lots of other people went out and got one. Google are doing the same slow viral invite-only release that they did with Gmail, and as with that it has certainly made Wave this year's must-have-even-if-I-don't-know-why. TechCrunch did a pretty good overview of what it is and does back in May if you're unfamiliar with the Wave concept.

Amongst my friends a critical mass has finally built up that enough people are using it to make it interesting, but so far all it seems to have done is spark a hundred "my, aren't we all really bad spellers" conversations as everybody's pitiful attempts to write basic English phrases without the aid of a spellchecker are exposed in real time to all and sundry.

In a business or academic setting its applications are immediately obvious, especially to anyone who has ever run a conference call with multiple locations. In a previous life I used a precursor to Wave from Marratech (acquired by Google in 2007 and the spiritual progenitor of Wave, if not the actual code on which it is based) to host remote trainings, with integrated live video streaming of the presenter, a shared virtual whiteboard and real-time group chat sessions, just a perfect setting for distance learning environments.

But if the product is really going to revolutionize online communications it will have to find widespread adoption beyond the office and classroom, and that is where the API comes in, which allows developers to take the product in directions its developers never imagined by creating extensions and gadgets that increase Wave's functionality.

For example, I use SoundCloud to host demo music tracks and other audio works in progress, and some nice person has created a SoundCloud gadget for Wave that enables a track to be embedded in a Wave and played simultaneously to loads of people. All the participants in a Wave could be commenting in real time on the track as it was playing, and uploading their own tracks as well, so in theory Wave could be used to stage a 'live' participatory concert.

Hopefully Wave will be another Gmail rather than a Jaiku or Dodgeball, that gets widespread external adoption and proper internal Google support. Its potential actually excites me.

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At 3:22 pm, Blogger arjedre said...

OK, so all I have to do is keep up on email, stay up to date on facebook posts/updates/conversations, and create some new waves? Things are going to be much easier once they get cracking on that direct mind cloud software. Ready for my implant, captain!


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