May 29th, 2009
What do you get when you use e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, wikis and other collaboration tools as a starting point for an entirely new communications model?
The answer is Google Wave.
Google previewed its latest Web-based application at the Google I/O developer’s conference this week. The Google Maps team, lead by Lars and Jens Rasmussen, developed the application to allow people to communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and other tools.
Wave is the Rasmussens’ answer to questions like: Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the Web today, in one smooth continuum?
And what if we tried designing a communications system that took advantage of computers’ current abilities, rather than imitating nonelectronic forms? It took the brothers two years to come up with some answers that take the form of Wave.
Catching the Wave
In Google Wave you create a wave, which often starts with instant messaging, and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets and even feeds from other sources on the Web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly.
“It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave,” said Lars Rasmussen, a software engineering manager at Google.
“That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use ‘playback’ to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.”
Wave is an HTML 5 app, but it can also be considered a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other Web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves.