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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trying Out Google Wave (Videos)
By Philipp Lenssen & Tony Ruscoe

We are trying out the developer preview of Google Wave. Please keep in mind that this is a very early version of Google Wave with known bugs... this is not a final product yet.

Each Wave document consists of several sub-parts, called "Blips". Tony and I can chat along inside a Wave, and we're seeing what the other types letter by letter. (PS: Oops, I miscorrected Tony's sentence at around 3:30!)


In Google Wave, you can invite a robot to a document (a Wave) like you would invite another person. This robot is a program that will do something to your Wave in real-time; Rosy, for instance, auto-translates things being typed into the Wave ("Rosy" as in "Rosetta Stone"). Another robot can auto-complete sentences for you. Yet another robot can convert text smileys into images.


You can use Wave as a kind of real-time teaching tool if you like. For instance, in this video Tony tells me about Sheffield, while embedding map gadgets and more.

Technically, Wave is sometimes a bit slow to load, but otherwise very impressive. On more of a non-technical side, we were wondering whether Wave trying to be everything at once is its upside or its downside.

On the upside, the idea may be that there's no need to switch to other tools, as a Wave is a wiki, chat, email, translator, gadget playground and more all in one! Less choice could theoretically mean less thinking about which app to switch to.
On the downside, an interface that's meant to handle everything at once can risk being not particularly suited for anything specifically. The app may additionally become socially ambiguous ("does the other person want to chat with me in real-time, or is it OK if I answer tomorrow?" ... "Do I 'hang around' in this document waiting for the other person?"), and not very discoverable in terms of use patterns ("what am I supposed to do here?", or as Tony and I wondered, "Are we using this thing the right way?").

But it seems too early to tell for Wave as Google says it's in its early stages, so we'll have to see when it goes live. Already, several of the things available in Wave might be inspiring for other web apps and spawn and push forward new ideas elsewhere.

[Thanks to Google for the invites, and thanks to Jens Rasmussen!]


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