Google Wave promises to revolutionise how we communicate and work together by incorporporating email, instant messaging (IM), wiki, online documents, file sharing, chat rooms, networking and gadgets. But what is it and what does it mean for you?
Although, in a possible acknowledgement that they don't expect everyone to suddenly abandon their current networking and email sites you can manage and control all of them from Wave.
>> See also: Photos: Google Wave - Surf, swim or suffocate? <<
What is a Wave?
Every member of a 'Wave' - the name given to a group - sees the same display on their screen and as they operate in real-time, every event is immediately shared with the rest of the group. Like sharing a desktop.
This means characters are displayed on other members' screens literally as you type. Files are shared by dragging-and-dropping
them into the Wave. So no more attaching and opening files as is currently done on email.
Wiki, editing and file-sharing
Its wiki functionality means data/messages can be edited and worked on by any of the users. The amendments will be uploaded and seen immediately.
This pooling of data should make Wave an excellent collaborative working tool. Businesses working together, project management, editing media, scientific or development work or communal journalism should all be made a lot easier.
Remotely located members will always have access to the latest data and discussions.
nDevilTV on flickr
The playback feature
A new arrival to the group can see how the current state was arrived at by using the playback feature. This chronologically
shows the conversations unfolding, the changing state of files as they're updated and new members joining.
Notably, Google has made the software open-source so applications can be created or altered to suit individual needs. These
applications are called 'Gadgets' and 'Robots'.
Gadgets and Robots
Gadgets are like Facebook applications such as online games, quizzes or tools to bolt-on to your Wave. Robots are more active, detecting keywords in conversations and then acting on them. This could be used to provide users with relevant, up-to-date information from outside sites or databases.
Being open-source makes the possibilities for Gadgets and Robots seemingly endless with Twitter, Facebook and Wolfram Alpha the first to develope a Gadget or Robot.
dannysullivan on flickr
Marketing and advertising
A feature that marketing companies can use to advertise relevant products and services. In fact branded Waves are seen as a key use, creating interaction between the brand and its consumers.
Imagine live conversations being scanned for keywords by Google Wave. Google can then target their advertising against this Wave. For example, if the Wave is for a particular football team, then a sports manufacturer's advertising can be placed in and around the Wave.