Dec 3, 2009

What in the WWW is Wave?

I'm starting a new segment on my blog called: What in the World Wide Web?, our first topic of investigation is Google Wave.

I finally got an invite to Google Wave. I have been interested but reluctant to join for a while because I know there has been a lot of buzz about it but I didn't know exactly what it was. I joined a few days ago but haven't used it much because I've still really been trying to figure out what it is and how it works. Google has like a 90 min video up that explains it, but who wants to watch a feature length movie just to be able to start to use a new site?

That's where this blog comes in I guess. To save the day?
So What in the World Wide Web is Google Wave?: Google Wave is a real-time communication platform.

I will wholeheartedly admit that this site is intimidating at first, if you are like me and don't even know the basic concept then it makes it almost impossible to troubleshoot through the features. I started to do some research and what I found is that this whole "Wave" thing is really an incredible idea. That is why I wish to share this video, which is one that I found that was extremely helpful in detailing the main point of Google Wave:

So now that you know what Google Wave is, now I'm sure you want to know how to use it. As usual Mashable has put up a pretty all-inclusive Complete Guide to Google Wave that has just about everything you could ever need to know.

Mashable says that Google Wave combines "aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management to build one elegant, in-browser communication client." Wave is chock-full of innovative features, Mashable details a lot of them, but I'm just going to run down a few and then show another quick video on 15 features of Google Wave.

The first is real-time, obviously, since that is pretty much the main feature of the site. At first by looking at the platform I just thought a "wave" was similar to a "tweet" on twitter. Although there is no character limit and there is so much more you can do with a single wave. But the replies show up instantly within the wave and if you are online at the same time you can sometimes see a response being typed.

Wave also has applications and extensions, like Facebook, or like widgets/gadgets on other sites, developers can build their own apps within waves. There is a Twitter application (Twave, obvi), real-time games, and probably some other really awesome stuff. I haven't gotten that far into it yet so I haven't really been able to check any of them out. I'm really hoping for a YouTube application for embedding video content, which I'm pretty sure I've seen but I have to check out how it works.

Mashable also talks about "Wiki functionality" which is basically just the idea that anything can be edited by anyone. All conversations within your platform are shared with your contacts. So you can not only reply to a wave but you can actually go in and correct information, add information, add commentary. You can write in different colors, styles, fonts. Pretty much everything is customizable.

This idea made me nervous at first because I'm an editing fiend and I usually review everything I post obsessively until it's perfectly readable and aesthetically pleasing. So the idea that someone could go in there and edit and make changes to my thought-out posts was pretty scary. BUT of course Wave has another feature that makes this much less intimidating. It's called "Playback," on every wave you can play back every little addition that has been made. From who has been added, to who has posted, to every change that comes up. It will show the original text and then will highlight the parts that have been added.

Google wave has also perfected the autocorrect function to include "Natural language" which not only corrects spelling but it even corrects grammar as far as even knowing the difference between similar words, like “been” and “bean.” It also has an auto-translate function that allows two or more people to communicate seamlessly in real time in two completely different languages.

There is still a lot more to explore, but these were just my preliminary findings in order to answer for myself and others about what the general idea and purpose of Google Wave is. At first when I saw the layout of the site and the way the communications work and the ease of ability to share information and even documents my first thought was that this could be an amazing tool for a business. But then upon finding out about all of the features like the games and the way you can add attachments directly into the message and the translator I started to see how useful this really could be. Especially because if you know me at all you know that I absolutely hate email. I am totally sold on Google Wave, I think it's exactly what I needed and I'm excited to see how it grows.

If you have an invite the first thing you should do after creating your account is go to your contacts box and click on the grey picture next to your name and update your profile. Next use the search box to type in any email addresses of friends that you know use Wave, because the site really is a little useless if you don't have anyone to communicate with. Next find the wave in your inbox that allows you to invite people and use up your eight invites to get some more of your friends on the site. Once you have some contacts you are ready to test everything out.

Good Luck, and Have fun!
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