My response to some questions about Google Wave I received from our local student newspaper:
1. What do you know about Google Wave?
Not all that much, in terms of the details. I’ve participated in a couple of waves so far, but most of the people I know don’t have Wave yet. Because of that my collaboration opportunities are somewhat limited.
What I do know is that Wave is Google’s attempt to replace the traditional concept of e-mail. As the video in that link I recommended so eloquently states: Wave is Google’s attempt to answer the question “What would e-mail look like if it were made with today’s technology?” E-mail is typically for asynchronous communication — letter- or memo-writing in a digital form — and is almost always text-based, unless a video or other media is attached. From what I can tell and what I’ve read, Wave changes the game in a few fundamental ways:
- Both synchronous and asynchronous communication. One of my pet peeves is when I’m e-mailing someone and get an almost instant response. I know the other person is sitting as his or her desk, but if I don’t know a phone extension or IM name at which to reach him or her, I’m stuck writing a series of e-mails. Wave accommodates real-time responses in each conversation, so a wave can act as a e-mail or as an IM conversation, depending on the status of the participants in the wave.
- Media embedding. In Wave, I don’t have to attach a video — if it’s on YouTube, I can play it within the conversation. And since communication can be real-time, a group can watch a video or scroll through photos and chat about those as if they were at the same table. Putting media into the viewable area of an e-mail knocks out the steps involved in downloading and opening files in order to view them.
- Conversation tracking. Let’s continue with the movie example. Say a group of us were able to be online and watch the trailer of a movie we were thinking about seeing. We started a wave and talked about whether this was the type of movie we were interested to see. But you couldn’t make it until 5 minutes into the discussion. In a wave, there’s a “Play” button you could hit and Wave would start the conversation all over again. You could watch the movie and then our statements as we put them in one at a time. In just a few minutes, you’re caught up and can productively contribute to the discussion. A Wave allows users to enter into the collaborative process without expending effort on determining who said what when — a time-consuming task when one is copied in to the middle of an e-mail exchange.
- Community-added functionality. After our movie conversation, how would we decide whether to jump or not? We could certainly type in our ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but Wave takes these tasks to another level by allowing us to simply drop in a poll. Developments like the embedded poll are a result of Google’s approach to this project: make something new and then start asking others to help. Google has opened Wave up to professional and amateur developers whose contributions have created a rich environment for collaboration and communication.
- Not sure where the theater is? How about we embed a map into our wave?
- Need to see one another for this conversation? Let’s include a video chat into our wave.
- Friend who wants to come but doesn’t know English too well? Why don’t we insert the translator bot?
- Want to get a video rather than go out after all? Check out prices on Amazon with a bot for that too.
Wave as a concept has excited a host of creative, knowledgeable people who are both using and improving the tool. The challenge will be whether such an undertaking will be sustainable.
2. Who told you about Google Wave, or where did you hear about it?
I originally heard about Google Wave from a podcast I listen to, EdTechTalk. I’ve picked up info along the way from a few waves designated :public within Wave itself, from LifeHacker, and from Tripani’s Complete Guide to Google Wave.
3. Do you know anyone (besides yourself) who has been invited?
I was passed an invitation from a colleague of mine. A number of educators have received invites, but I’m only aware of 5 other people in our district who currently have Wave (thus the small pool for collaborative opportunities)
4. Are you going to promote signing up for Google Wave once it is released to the pubic?
I’ll recommend it to those who are interested, but until it’s stable I won’t be promoting it to everyone.
5. How do you feel about the preview and the bugs?
I’m impressed with the preview. Wave delivers on many of its promises and the bugs, while annoying, are just part of the process.