On Tuesday evening I finally watched the whole of the Google Wave developer forum, explaining the concept that brothers Lars & Jens came up with, challenging the idea that most software and online tools are built to emulate tools of the 1960s, and don’t make full use of what is now possible:
- Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication — email versus chat, or conversations versus documents?
- Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the web today, in one smooth continuum? How simple could we make it?
- What if we tried designing a communications system that took advantage of computers’ current abilities, rather than imitating non-electronic forms?
On September 1st, Google Apps announced that Wave was nearly ready… but only to be rolled out to selected schools/businesses, with full rollout at some point in 2010. There’s a lot of excitement generated about the concept, so I though I ought to watch the video properly, and was interested to see what some of the new features were (some appeared straightforward and I’m sure I just don’t have a full appreciation of the technology underlying them – I’m more interested in the possible uses and applications!
Discuss and Edit in the same document, no need to send backwards and forwards. Changes are highlighted, and the entire history of the document will be available. You can add “bloggy” as a Wave user, and the wave will be automatically published to your blog. If you makes changes in either the blog or the wave, the changes are reflected in the other source in real time (the demonstration shows an image gallery).
Multiple users can edit a document at the same time, and in multiple langugages (it can cope with right-to-left and left-to-right)
The document uses contextual spelling, and if it’s not sure, uses the traditional red underlining
The wave can translate around 40 languages, as the document is being typed (word by word). Here’s an example in French.
Other features that caught my attention
- Use with Twitter to create a “Tweave”: what’s written in Wave can appear in Twitter, and Wave can function as a Twitter search (or is that too simplistic a description?)
- Online polls are possible, showing in real time the response so far.
- Invites can be sent out with “Yes” “No” “Maybe”, and these are all clearly visually presented.
There was a lot of information in the presentation, and the product was still very much at a beta stage, but as it greets its first “live” users, expect to see more feedback generated.