Google Wave: Changing the World as You Know It
by Linda Goin

While you may not have a Google Wave account yet, it may be just a matter of time before you're invited to join in on this new and exciting personal communication and collaboration tool. No matter if you're already involved or waiting to join in, you can pick up on some quick tips from this article.

The Interface

When you receive an invitation to Google Wave and sign in, you will see the following interface:


The interface is divided into three columns:

1.Left column: Holds the menu at the top and your contacts at the bottom (from Gmail or from Google Wave additions you can make yourself through a "Manage Contacts" link).

2.Middle Column: Holds all the "Waves" that you create.

3.Right Column: Holds a "Wave" that currently is active. The one showing above is from the introduction to Google Wave that each user receives. Notice that, in the middle column, the green highlight shows which Wave I currently am viewing. That Wave happens to be at the bottom of the list, which shows the order that Waves are listed in the hierarchy – from latest down to the earliest Wave.

The columns shown above can be expanded or removed by using the + or – links in the upper right header to each column as shown below:


I wanted to show you that very simple aspect to this product, as part of the genius behind the Wave is that its interface is fairly intuitive in look and feel. What may not be so intuitive is how you can use this product. Once again, I'll beg you to watch the introductory video so you can gain a grasp on the basic concept. Once you do, then the following information will make more sense to you. I'm going to pick up where the video leaves off...

Grasping the Wave

Basics

If you watched the introductory video, then you know the possibilities that the Wave presents as a product, as a platform and as a protocol. Those developers who do not know about the Wave (and I doubt there are many) can begin by learning more about how to develop APIs through the Google Wave API centre. Companies that want to implement this tool – or, something similar based upon Wave's open source code – can begin to implement the Wave or a similar product as a private enterprise within that company.

Introducing a new product similar to Wave before everyone gets a chance to try Wave seems risky – but don't count on getting cosy with Wave even if you can wrap your head around its current possibilities. For instance, Google just purchased AppJet, which makes the EtherPad real-time workgroup collaboration application. This tool will expand upon Wave's current collaboration possibilities. I'm sure that Google will acquire even more products and change the Wave's capabilities even further. The Wave that you learn today, I'm certain, will not be the same Wave that you encounter in a few weeks.

With that said, you still can comprehend the Wave's uses as well as its current possibilities. The issue is that engineers develop and use this product...therefore, the average user – like myself – needs to hunt for things that engineers might already use on a daily basis. For instance:

  • Although the video shows users how to interact both in real time and through email, or "pings" in Wave, Lars does not mention that you must first log into Wave before you can interact with those applications. Currently, there is no way to know if you have a new "ping" (contact much like an email) from a user or a new Wave unless you log in to Wave. An email notification may be added shortly to allow users to know when their Wave or Waves have been updated.
  • Lars also does not mention that it takes at least one other person to interact in a Wave (although this seems clear in the video). He also does not mention that the Wave also can play well with just one person (I'll show you one example in a moment).
  • Since Google wave was designed by nerds, there's little chance that non-nerds can follow along with ease. Google Wave really is in a raw state, and it will take some time to roll out a complete product that is easy for the average user to comprehend. On the other hand, I've seen where some non-engineer types have caught on to the Wave quickly, so there's no telling who will "get it" and who will struggle.

For more complaints about Google Wave and some possible resolutions, visit eWeek.

Linda Goin

Linda GoinLinda Goin carries an A.A. in graphic design, a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in social media experiments.

Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.

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