Google Wave: The next big thing in collaboration?

We’ve been trialling out Google Wave at Gaia Resources for the last couple of weeks and while it has all the warts of a new technology, the platform does show some promise.


When I logged into Google Wave for the first time, I took a quick look around and decided to myself, “An interesting distraction, but it doesn’t look useful just yet”. As time went on we got our first round of invites here at Gaia Resources which were eagerly snapped up by the rest of our staff and it was then that the benefits of Wave started to become apparent. Once waves reach a certain critical mass they seem to explode with creativity and often the thread will spin off into various tangents that wouldn’t be possible with other forms of communication.


It is this randomness that is both Wave’s best and worst attribute.


As a brainstorming tool, Google Wave fosters active participation and creativity. As a business tool, it would be all to easy to become distracted and head the conversation in the wrong direction. I suspect that as people become more comfortable with the technology the tendency for randomly commenting throughout a wave on its various blips will also calm down a bit.


The second really powerful (and as of the moment under exploited) feature is Google Wave’s gadgets. A gadget is kind of like a smart block that can be added to a wave to perform practically any function. For example, if you need to run a teleconference you can add a teleconference gadget. Need to run a quick poll of peoples opinions? No problem, add a polling gadget. Need to show people the exact location of a landmark? Add the Google Maps gadget.


Google have released to developers the API for programming gadgets so it’s only a matter of time before we start to see all manner of gadgets that do everything from composing poetry to displaying the contents of your internet enabled fridge.


So in summary, Google Wave is a promising tool that is going to become more and more useful as time goes on. Let me be clear, though: the Google Wave preview has lots of bugs and probably isn’t ready to be part of my daily work toolset… just yet. Once they’ve ironed out the all too frequent crashes, lockups and general sluggishness of the platform, Google Wave is set to turn into a really powerful tool.


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