A peak into Google Wave yields mostly positive results.
I was recently sent an invite to Google Wave. I hadn’t looked much at it since it came, but it did seem as an interesting concept. A web based tool for distant cooperation with hints of IM-services, seems pretty neat.. The truth however is that while it does certainly hold potential as a great platforming for cooperation, the IM-part has work to be done.
A friend and me has been working on a side project. As we both live in seperate countries, going over to his place and drawing up plans on the dinner table is out of the question. The project itself was in an infant stage when I gained access to Google Wave and so I decided to try out the capabilities of the Wave. It was in fact the reason for why I asked for an invite to begin with. So soon after I logged in I sent on of my own remaining invites to my friend by mail.
A nice part about the invitation system is that whoever you invite is added to you contact list automaticly and vice versa. So I could immediately see when my friend logged on and started a conversation, or “Wave” as Google would like us to call it. By using shift + enter one could reply to messages pretty much instantly and it pretty much worked as a slower IM-service. I was reminded about one of the chat functions of good ol’ ICQ in how you are able to see what the other person is typing before they even hit enter. While this serves little purpose on an IM level, it does help when collaborating around a project. I can see what the other person is typing when they’re typing it and then sometimes predict what they’re writing. This would be especially useful when there’s more than two people using using it at once, but I digress. In essence the conversation was less than ideal, but it was certainly better than e-mail. And since the recipent isn’t required to be online to recieve the messages, it has it’s uses.
Then we started a new wave and started typing down what we had discussed earlier about the project. My friend however was at the moment occupied, but this only served to further show how versatile Google Wave can be when not everyone is online. Since anyone can edit the wave at any time, it was like editing a document (in this case guidelines and notes for the project) and now and then you could see someone else add or edit it.
The biggest downside to this however was that unless you used the somewhat cumbersome “replay wave” where you can see how and when something was added there was no real way to see what had been edited or added. In this case there could be entire passages that might get lost for the other part since we didn’t know it was added. A tool to give a quick oversight of what had changed since the last time you looked up the wave would be useful. In our case we just agreed to colour our contributions to a certain coulour so one could at least see who had added it.
To sum it up I have to say that I see Google Wave having potential, but it still needs some work on some parts to be as fantastic as some people make it out to be. I’m looking forward to seeing those changes come to pass and I’ll probably keep using it, probably a lot for said project.