lunes, 26 de octubre de 2009

What is Google Wave?

Google Wave is a new web application that is a bit hard to define. According to the Google Wave website it is "an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more."(About Google Wave, 2009) What's so impressive about this application is how it integrates different communication tools into one platform. Wave incorporates many of the communication system in use today such as email, instant messaging, social networking and wikis into a single platform. Whereas email is static, a wave is a dynamic message/document that can be edited and replied to in real-time by any of the participants, similar to a wiki.
The project’s leaders Lars and Jens Rasmussen and Stephanie Hannon first introduced Google Wave on May 27 2009 at the Google I/O Developer Conference. At first it was only available to developers but on Sept. 30 2009 it was released to the public but by invitation only. Wave was created as an open platform with an open source code that enables third party developers to create wave extensions and other wave providers.
There are two types of Wave extensions, gadgets and robots. Gadgets are application that a user can add to a wave, for example adding a map to show the directions to a party at someone's house. A robot is "an automated participant within a wave" that is added to a wave as an email address. (Parr, 2009) Bloggy is a robot that when added to a wave will publish the wave's content on the users Blogger blog.
Wave has a lot of convenient features that simplify and revolutionize online communication. Bill Parr listed what he called "The Top 6 Game-Changing Features of Google Wave" as:

1. Wiki-style functionality - message and document editing by any of the participants
2. Wave extensions - gadgets and robots
3. Drag-and-drop file uploads - when sending a wave you can just drag and drop files (photos, documents) from your computer to a wave.
4. Wave embeds - allows you to embed a wave onto another website.
5. Playback - is an incredibly convenient feature since it allows you to replay the whole editing process and changes that have been done to the wave, just like a video.
6. Open-source

The Wave team has released two videos describing the application; both are available on YouTube. The first is the actual Wave Developer Preview presentation from the Google I/O Conference. The second is a brief 8 min. overview of the most important Google Wave features
I haven't been able to try out this application yet since it is still in beta phase and access is by invitation only, but from what I've seen and read it seems as though, if accepted by the public, Google Wave could completely change the way we communicate on-line.

References
About Google Wave. (2009). Google Wave Preview. http://wave.google.com/help/wave/about.html

Parr, Ben. (2009, May 31). The Top 6 Game-Changing Features of Google Wave. Mashable. http://mashable.com/2009/05/28/google-wave-guide/

Fun facts: the term wave comes form the science fiction TV show Firefly created by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog). On the show a wave is an electronic communication usually a video call or video message.

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