Google unleashed the first round of invites to Google Wave today to around 100,000 people and naturally being a web geek I signed up early and got into the “preview” (which seems synonymous with “beta”)
Below is a great video example explaining Wave
The general idea behind Wave is that it was invented to answer the question “what if email was invented today? what would it look like?”
Some initial thoughts on Wave are below:
The initial welcome demo video is quite good (Mashable names the Dr. Wave Mascot) and explains clearly what you are looking at.
I think the best way to use or demo a web app or any software is to simply jump in and start using it and Wave gets you up and running fast.
Going through some of the demo Waves it is clear to see the power of this thing for groups. I would not think about using Wave by yourself.
The nice thing about the demos are that they actually add full Waves to your inbox (not even sure if this is the right naming convention anymore, but adding a Wave to your Wave just doesn’t sound right).
Once you have a demo Wave loaded up I found it helpful to “playback” the entire Wave.
This is the equivalent of watching an email thread develop instead of trying to decipher an email you were just CC’d on after it has been handled by 8 other recipients before you got there. Gone are the infamous email thread time stamp checks, failed attachments, and confusing responsibility tasking – its all in the Wave.
It is slightly overwhelming to see that a brainstorming session about an upcoming BBQ or choosing the type of dog to get can take 60+ steps – but that is the reality of all the actions taken throughout each of those Wave examples.
You can get a real sense of the power and organization of a Wave by segmenting the two examples above and thinking about them as “chains” of events all compartmentalized into a Wave. At any time you can jump back into that Wave and add people, actions, items, pictures, etc… and those involved will get updated.
Much like Gmail, Google Wave organization is done via labels and searches vs. folders (although folders do exist). This means that for most buttons and functions you are actually conducting a search.
For example some of the navigation options like “Trash”, “Requests”, and “Inbox” are just queries to sort through everything and bring you to “in:trash”, “in:requests” and “in:inbox” respectively. This is the same conventions Gmail uses such as “label:unread” to find all your unread messages.
This may not seem an important point, but understanding the power of a single place for all messages and controlling and organizing via labels and queries is a powerful metaphor for message storage. To me, this is the fundamental flaw in Exchange and other email clients – messages should be abstracted not physically moved – but I digress back to the Wave review.
It is also nice that features, settings, widgets, and other items are all presented within their own Google Waves. This is important because there is no “settings” link at the top right, but instead there is a “settings” Wave that will have an area to setup and tweak your Wave(s) (it is not setup yet but coming soon)
The drag and drop features of Wave seem very cool. The drag and drop features appeal to me – but I could not get them working or upload files at this time.
The seamless integration with the current Google tools and seamless metaphors with how people use the web today make getting on board with Wave very easy. You can tell that time and energy has been spent thinking about these features and how people will initially use them, and how advanced uses can progress and organically grow from the initial Wave creation and use case.
Automatic translation by Google Wave also seems to be quite a unique feature. Watching the demo video above you can see some of the French to English translation happening in real time between Wave users basically chatting in two languages.
Again, this is integration of currently Google tools and features that all seem to roll up and fit nicely within Wave.
The nice thing about using Wave is that I feel like I have only scratched the surface of functionality and features here and I look forward to using it in a real world scenario with a number of other people.
update: this is like Gmail all over again with folks putting Wave invites for sale on Ebay
Lifehacker also has a great first look at Google Wave
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