Thursday, June 10, 2010

Google Waves, should I wave back?

Anand, who comments regularly on my blog, was the first to draw my attention to Google Wave. It attracted a lot of buzz (the noun, not the Google kind) when it was launched as an invitation-based platform in the last quarter of 2009, but it does not seem to be catching on with the junta, very much as was the case with Google Buzz. Almost all my friends have a Google Account, but I do not catch up with them on Buzz, only on FB or Twitter. And none of my colleagues or friends have yet started using Wave.

It's a pity, because Wave is an attempt to introduce a new to the world concept - a virtual platform for real-time collaboration using rich media (photos, videos, chat, calls and most other things you normally do on the Net). In theory, it is a powerful tool and in my case I can see several potential applications:

1) Collaboration with colleagues in offshore locations. Wave is a fantastic platform to brainstorm a presentation or ideate in situations where we cannot be together in the same room. It allows you to doodle, add video or audio, edit and make changes in text in real time in any part of the discussion, so that you can co-create in the true sense. This is incredibly exciting to me and I believe it will be the future way of working. Already, chart paper is very passe in an age when we think on our computer screens. To see what I mean, watch this Google Wave video below:

2) My job is consumer research and Google Wave re-defines conventional online research through blogs/ forums and bulletin boards. The media-rich approach encourages people to express themselves in any possible way that they could, and perhaps in more ways, than when they meet in a room for a mere 'focus group discussion'

3) Merely to socialise with friends, it is a so much more fulfilling tool than Facebook or social networking sites. Because when you create a wave, it becomes a shared space that you can stay in. It won't fade away into oblivion, even if it is updated sporadically. You can add your images, comments, links to blogs, edit other comments. And the playback feature which lets you see how a wave was created, and changes made in it, is such a cool feature, just from the view point of pure geekery.

Of course, there is a flip side. To be part of a wave, you must have a gmail account, which does limit collaboration at a corporate level. I've been playing with it for sometime and though it's a good interface, it does need some learning. Even a moderate level of newness can deter non-geeks which means that other colleagues may not find it the best medium to collaborate. And finally, it's still in beta so I'm sure a few bugs will pop up.

Still, I intend to use it at the earliest opportunity. It's a step towards the Cloud and definitely a step in the right direction