15 January 2010

Google Wave

Frequently Asked Questions About Google Wave - Google Wave - Lifehacker
Q: How do you describe what Google Wave is in the fewest words possible?

A: Two words: Google Wave is multimedia wikichat.

Ok, I cheated a little. Wikichat is my made-up word for the combination of document collaboration (wikis) and messaging (chat). Imagine a Wikipedia page that only your workgroup can access and that multiple people can change simultaneously, with live, inline chat embedded in it and the ability to add online multimedia like an image slideshow, videos, maps, polls, a Sudoku game, video conference call, and other interactive widgets. See it? That's Wave.

Q: Why would I use Wave instead of email?

A: You'd use Wave instead of email because you can have real-time, IM-like conversations inside it, and cut out the lag time of asynchronous email communication—you know, when you send an email and have to wait for your recipients to read, reply, and send one back. In Wave, if your recipient is online, you don't have to wait. In fact, your recipient can start typing before you stop. It's wacky.

Q: Then why would I use Wave instead of IM?

A: You'd use Wave instead of instant messenger because you can edit the same text, images, captions as someone else is at the same time. During an instant messenger conversation you pass back and forth a series of single-author, uneditable messages. In Wave, anyone can edit any message (or blip, in Wave-speak). Imagine correcting someone else's typos during a chat yourself, without pointing out to them that they mistyped.

Wave also supports conversation threads, which means that instead of one linear discussion where new messages appear on top or below old ones, you can branch off sub-chats on different topics in one wave.

But mostly you use Wave to collaborate on a single copy of a document with multiple people at the same time.

Q: Then why would I use Wave instead of Google Docs?

A: GDocs is more like collaborative/web-based Microsoft Word, where the object is to create a flat file that gets printed or emailed to someone. Wave is more like a real-time wiki, which creates pages meant to be linked and constantly revised, pages that contain web-based multimedia and interactive gadgets.

In Wave you can drop multimedia like image slide shows, YouTube videos, Google Maps, and countless other gadgets that you can't in Google Docs. Like a wiki (and unlike Google Docs), you can link waves to each other very easily.

Wave is more like a real-time, workgroup Wikipedia than Google Docs or email.

Q: So, what would I actually use Wave for?

A: Wave works when two or more people need to co-write a document. A few common use cases include:

* collaborative meeting, conference, or class notes—whether or not everyone's in the same physical room, several people taking notes in one place is much more efficient than everyone taking their own individual notes
* interviews—each question and answer series can be one thread within the parent interview thread, where the interviewer and interviewee can revise and expand questions and answers inline
* group event planning, like a party, trip, wedding
* co-writing and editing—whether it's books, blogs, brochures, policies
* surveys
* translations
* project management

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