Catching the Google Wave

A few weeks ago, a Facebook friend’s status was “Who wants a Google Wave invite?” I quickly replied that I’d love one. I had been hearing a lot about this new communication tool and seeing it come up frequently on Twitter. Now, I had my chance to surf. A bit skeptical by nature, I was inclined to think that it really can’t be that wonderful and isn’t going to be anything that changes the world. However, after 3 weeks on the Wave, my mind has changed. I think Google Wave will change how we communicate.

The basis of Google Wave is real-time communication. It aims to eliminate multiple emails and the lag time while someone is replying until that message is received. It’s also a great way to organize numerous conversations on the same topic. In Google Wave, you have contacts and navigation on the left, the typical timeline of received waves in the middle, and the wave you currently have selected open on the right. One of my favorite uses of it thus far has been communicating with vendors. I can start a new wave with the title of the project, select the vendor from the contacts and drag him/her over to the wave. There we can update each other on the project status. We can see the other person type, therefore eliminating those emails where the same thing is said. If we have a question for Katie, I can add her to the wave, she can answer, and we all know that everyone has been informed. A wave is also a great place to share documents. If you need several pairs of eyes on a document, start a new wave. Each person can take a look and edit. Then everyone else on the wave can track those changes live without the attaching and resending. Most unique to Google Wave is the playback feature. Say you’re added to an ongoing wave. To see what happened, click “playback” at the top. That will show each message and edit from the wave’s start.

Google knows this is a big leap from typical e-mail, so to help get everyone started, they made a very comprehensive video. In 80 minutes, the developers share all features of the program. Or, if you prefer, watch the abbreviated version, just 8 minutes, but still a great primer to this new tool. And I have invitations now, so if you want to catch the wave, too, let me know.

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