Friday, October 2, 2009

Google Wave, I've gotta get me some of that!

After looking over all the preview materials, hype and papers written by early look users (and now the early adopters) as well as Google’s videos about Google Wave, I initially thought it was a solution to a problem that I didn’t have. It was confusing. As the product steeps / ferments/ matures in the back of my brain, it’s exactly something that I could useat work… all day. In fact, I want it right now!!!

What Is It?
For those that don’t know what Google Wave is, here are some short talking points, but in summary, it’s a (shall I dare say) a new paradigm where e-mail, documents, presentations are all mixed into one cohesive
environment. Think about taking OneNote, MS Mail, Instant messaging, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and mashing that together into something that was also mega-collaborative… that is, the people that you invite to a particular “wave” (a piece of content) can collaborate live on it, you see their changes as they are making them. You can include comments and privately discuss sections etc. If you’ve used Google Docs then you know what I mean about live collaboration (which I have used with my wife while trying to crank out a document). Google Wave also supports the idea of plug-ins or robots. Drag a publishing robot onto your wave and it will may publish that wave (sans comments and possibly other stuff) to a BLOG,
wiki or …ugg.. a SharePoint repository. Forget save, connect, upload… just drop the robot on there and move on with your day. Because the robot is now part of the conversation, any changes to the wave will be
re-published or processed per the directives of that robot. Imagine bringing on a new team member and wanting to bring them current on large waves like architecture documents. The context is sometimes almost as important as the final content itself. With Google Wave, you can slide a time bar back and take her through all the conversations and iterations of a wave to really understand how you got where you are.

Here are a few more basic points and points to more info:
  • A wave is equal parts conversation and document.
    People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.
  • A wave is shared.
    Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.
  • A wave is live.
    With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.
Why do I want it?
I collaborate constantly with people in small “waves” and large ones, from quick e-mails with questions to requirements documents to meeting minutes and action items. Just today, I was trying to manage a quick
action-item list with my co-worker, sent it to him and 30 seconds later he had a change for me, 30 seconds after that I fixed a mistake, darn you email (I scream). I made the change(s) but didn’t send him a new version since he was the one requesting the tweak. But, alas, more changes coming in constantly from our collective consciousness. When my friend receives responses from people on his action item list or he has progress or updates from people (and others in my company that we want to collaborate with) he will have
to use the stone-age model where he sends it to me and I update the free-hand list using whatever tool I used (OneNote in this case).

Sure, I could have use my wiki but I have had a heck of a time trying to convince people to collaborate with me at this pace on a wiki and the performance is sub-optimal.

The project that I’m starting up now is in the architecture design and requirements phase. There are tons of conversations that need to be captured, action items tracked, working documents built and maintained.
All of these items involve collaboration between two or more people.

We spend too much time ensuring we have the original (or updating that official document) than we should. My mailbox is full of various versions of documents from different people. Sure we use SharePoint
but that’s just another hurdle that you just don’t want. I want to collaborate real-time on shared content and let people add value and consume it 7 X 24. I want to spend more time adding value rather than in
administrative black-hole of office application suites.

    There are lots more… just Google it
Your Thoughts?

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