15 October, 2009

What is Google Wave Good For?

There's been a lot a talk about Wave, even though it isn't properly released yet. But is the hype justified? What is it best used for? Does it replace any other tools that we use?

Well, as noted in the video below, Wave was designed to help people move from using email on occasions where there is perhaps a group having a long scale conversation.

Many people have given their views on what Wave is, or isn't, good for. For example:

However, it is difficult to know how valid these opinions are until you use it yourself. I got my invite to Wave on Wednesday and have had chance to set up a 'Wave', that is, a conversation containing synchronous and asynchronous text conversation, maps, images, etc. On the face of it I like the way it pulls together a lot of the media that might be involved in a conversation, making all of the 'artefacts' from a conversation accessible to a large number of people.

My Wave was public, and a few other interested people got involved. One interesting thing in Wave is seeing people type in real time. This means you can see people type spelling mistakes, and change their minds about things, which might sound annoying but I much preferred synchronous chat working like this. AndrĂ¡s Beck, who was involved in the Wave put it well, saying that "its more close to real life conversations than usual chat programs. I mean... if a friend talks to u, u usually know what he wants to say after 50-60% of the sentence [and so] you can start to put ur thoughts together while they type. Usual chat means u type, and wait, then type, and wait...".

Sadly I can't yet embed the Wave in this blog yet, but it will be a possibility in the future. This would make it easier to make conversations public.

In conclusion, Wave is a complicated tool, and like any tool it is for certain purposes and not everything. Regarding my question about if and how it should be used, it looks like an improvement on email message boards from some perspectives, and I'd like to use it with a group as a place to store thoughts and conversations about a project instead of using a blog, or a group of students to use it to explore a topic together.

As for my experiences, I had an enjoyable conversation (about Wave itself), with people who were interested in the topic. Perhaps if the tools you use allow your students to connect with a range of people like this, precisely which tool you use matters less.

Finally, here are two views on whether Wave will actually take off: Ryan Carson says yes it will, Anil Dash says it won't.

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