Image by jlori via Flickr
I must admit that the excitement of first getting a Google Wave account quickly evaporated when I couldn’t figure out what it could do for me. Is Google Wave hype or hip? I’ll tell you more about Google Wave first and then give you my answer.
First of all, if you’ve never used Google Wave, you will need to apply for an invitation. You can sign up for it here: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/wavesignup And if you don’t know what Google Wave is, start with this really creative video:
I’m guessing that you will get an invitation pretty quickly, since Google Wave has been out for some time now. However, if you know someone who has invitations to hand out, that seems to be a quicker way to obtain a Google Wave account.
How does Google Wave compare to email?
First of all, it’s live and alive. You communicate in real time and don’t have to wait for email to arrive. If you are discussing an important issue and want to keep track of your communication by adding new people to the wave as needed, it’s a snap with Google Wave.
New waves are in bold and move to the top of your inbox (like email).
If one of your contacts is online, a small green dot will show up on the bottom right hand corner on his/her icon.
If you install Google Gears (a Firefox extension), you can easily add all sorts of rich multimedia content to your wave, such as YouTube videos, images, Google maps, or anything else that a gadget enables. And all of your waves can be saved, organized into folders, and can be formatted for printing and presentation in many different ways.
Unlike email, you can reply to an entire wave or reply to just parts of a wave inline. You can annotate the wave and also decide if you want the comments to be private or public.
If you’ve entered a wave later in the game, you can view how the wave began and progressed by clicking the play button at the top of the wave. You can tag a wave, easily drag files from your desktop, conduct searches, create folders, and use many of the wave extensions (gadgets and robots) to make your wave more useful.
One of the things that is really missing from Google Wave is the ability to then download a wave into Google docs or save a wave as a document. The collaboration and creation involved in a wave needs to be able to be easily transferred to another format.
Google Wave gadget and robots (bots)
You can find a great list of featured extensions for Google Wave at this site:
I’m particularly excited about the Ribbit conference gadget. Once you add it to a wave and add participants, everyone adds their phone number. You can conduct a phone conference this way, talking on the phone while you collaborate on a wave.
Robots are different from gadgets. These are actually email addresses that you add to your contact list. Here’s a list of available Google Wave bots: http://www.chaaps.com/list-of-google-wave-robots-add-bots-as-a-contact-in-wave.html
Bots add specific services to your Google Wave and can do all sorts of things. For instance, the Bloggy bot (firstname.lastname@example.org) can publish your wave to a Blogger blog. Want to create instant polls on your wave? Use Polly the Pollster bog (email@example.com) to create an instant poll for all of your wave participants.
So, is Google Wave hype or hip?
I say Google Wave is hip, for these reasons:
- collaborate in real time,
- annotate and edit waves,
- drag and drop images, videos, and other rich media into you wave,
- add other participants at any time who can quickly get up to speed on what is happening, and
- save a ton of time you would traditionally waste using email.
Simply stated, Google Wave can provide a more efficient and productive way to communicate. Problem-solving, brainstorming, group writing, note taking, live feedback, conference calling–a whole slew of rich features makes Google Wave very attractive. The main drawback right now is that not everyone has a Google Wave account. So, get a Google Wave account today and see how much time you’ve been wasting using email for many daily tasks. Then, let me know what YOU think.