Most geeks and Googlers have heard of Google Wave, but what is the real significance of it, and is it really something new to go all gaga over ? I think there are two very significant points about Google Wave worth some explanation.
1) Google Wave might be the first truly interactive and collaborative communication tool ever developed. In this sense alone, it is revolutionary and cliche as it may sound, it is a significant new paradigm. This is not just a new tool but a new development platform, with an astonishing number of potential applications.
I remember how in the eighties we thought Lotus Notes was so cool, because we could pass a message ’round robin in the office, and get budget approvals much faster than running from desk to desk to get three signatures on everything. Well Google Wave is light years ahead of those days.
A Google wave, (Wave – capital W, is the plaftorm, wave in lower case is the individual conversation), takes place in real time, but the entire wave is saved as a file. You can review the wave from beginning to end, stop, review, fast forward and back, just like a DVR.
Consider just one example of how Google Wave could be used in a training or classroom setting. The professor or trainer gives a presentation, and while he, or she is speaking, the students or participants ask questions in real-time.
The speaker gets marvelous feedback on-the-fly about his presentation. It’s effectiveness can be measured by the types of questions asked. The listeners do not have to remember to hold their questions to the end of the presentation, and the speaker can either answer questions on-the-fly, or review them at the end of the presentation.
If someone took good notes along the way, like a court stenographer does, there is a written record of the presentation in addition to the video, that can be reviewed later. That is not all. A wave can generate other waves. In response to a question, or at a certain point in the presentation, a secondary wave could be generated. Let’s call this a ripple — a wave within a wave.
An assistant, or TA could provide auxiliary material relevant to one of the topics in the presentation. It could be sort of an electronic footnote, similar to a link in an HTML document, except that it is a tangent thread that takes place in real-time. Questions could be asked and answered, on this thread, simultaneous to the main presentation.
Of course, you can have waves hyperlinked to other waves,
The real beauty of the wave is revealed when it is played back, since each thread, can be explored and replayed in part or in it’s entirety. Full and complete notes are available, and the audio can be turned off for read only mode, if desired. What could be better than a Google wave for instruction !
Did I mention Rosy the robot, the real-time translator ! If you have trouble in the language of the presenter, you can switch to your native language. There is also a context-based spell checker that can fix your spelling mistakes as fast as you type.
The presentation could also be enhanced by online participants. At the conclusion of the presentation, the entire file could be edited to provide only the most informative answers, and most beneficial questions. A FAQ can also be provided for the material. Is this the end of note taking forever !? Students around the world will be jumping for joy !
2) Google Wave is Open Source. The protocol is Open Source, the Development is Open Source, and the Applications, called Extensions are Open Source. Google Wave is the perfect platform for development. It is a programmer’s dream come true. No wonder Google Wave gets so many oohs and aahs from programmers.
A highly attractive platform for development such as Google Wave will interest the best and most innovative programmers. Move over IPhone app development. Google Wave is the new coolest platform for application development on the planet.
And guess what, the whole planet can benefit from applications developed for Google Wave ! As someone who saw how complex it used to be to get Microsoft Exchange to communicate with legacy Unix e-mail systems, Google Wave is truly a new day in the world of computing on which everyone can breathe some fresh air, and raise arms up for a collective hooray !