For much of 2009, techno-geeks were all a-buzz with talk about Google WAVE, the search engine juggernaut’s collaborative tool that was supposed to shatter the Earth and change the way we all did everything. And then ... WAVE was released. Did you notice? Lots of people didn’t. The ones that did, met it with a collective, “Meh. That’s it?”
This sort of thing often happens when people set their expectations too high.
The thing about Google WAVE, though? It’s actually extremely cool. People have just been so busy dismissing it because time didn’t stand still upon its release that they failed to see that.
In many ways, it’s much like Twitter was when it was first introduced. Not many people “got” it. “Why on earth do I need people to tell me about how their cornflakes got soggy at breakfast?” people would ask. “I have real work to do,” they’d say. Now, Twitter is one of the most powerful business tools at our disposal and no longer being dismissed by anyone (well, not many, anyway). I believe that the same will hold true for Google WAVE.
So, how do I use it?
The answer is that there are lots of ways to use it. But here’s just a touch of what’s possible: Google WAVE is already being used by lots of small business groups because it has tremendous strength in combining platforms like email, document sharing, multimedia file-sharing, instant messaging, project wikis, video conferencing, and a host of others. It has the ability to eliminate all of the other disparate communications tools by combining them into one well-honed powerhouse.
For example, let’s say that you’re having a same-time, multi-location meeting between team members. Everyone invited to participate in the WAVE (the name for a particular project in the application) can contribute to the notes and see who is adding what -- all in real time. At the end of the meeting, all of the notes are captured in a thread that can be viewed later on if someone wanted a recap, or if someone got invited to the WAVE late in the game. If there are team members who couldn’t participate because of differences in time zones (or other asynchronous difficulty), they can go into the WAVE, see all of the discussion, then add their own notes, as if they were present from the get-go. And anything that Google WAVE can’t do in its native state can likely be managed with any of the wide range of plug-ins that are available for it.
Right now, Google WAVE is only available by invitation. But before long, it’ll be available to everyone. It’s also important to remember that using WAVE to its potential will take time. It’ll take patience. But the power is there. Oh, yes. It’s there.
As for its ability to change the world? It hasn’t yet. But I’m betting that it will.