google wave!

Due to the total awesomeness that is Asaf Bartov, I now have a Google Wave invite.

And…and I don’t know what to say about it yet! Largely because he’s the only person I’ve talked to, so if any of you all are on Google Wave, ping me there. (Sorry, I don’t have any invites to hand out yet, and my first one is already spoken for.)

But early first impressions…

One, I am susceptible to the shiny. It looks like gmail with a dash of Mac thrown in — rounded corners, boxes with clearly delineated functionality, some customizability. Oh, and incomprehensible but cutting-edge something-or-other from our information overlords. Shiiiiny.

Two. I’m taking an online class in knowledge management this term, and another class which has a lot of guest speakers via teleconference/desktop sharing/other remote means. This has underscored that there’s not a real consensus these days on what collaboration tools ought to look like, and a lot of them are terrible anyway. So there’s a lot of space for someone with a habit of game-changing technologies to come in and pwn that niche. *cough* Can’t imagine who that company might be.

Three. There are all these extensions you can get. Some of them (SAP, are obviously aimed at business telecommunications. Some of them bridge the gap between business and pleasure (video chat, teleconferencing, google maps). Some of them are pure fun (sudoku). It looks like it could be a major player in both business and social networking, if it catches on. (Which is part of why it’s so hard to describe: it doesn’t fit in the existing boxes well. I think it’s looking to be transformative technology.)

Four. I could see this being awesome for online learning, if it works the way I hope (and I still need to test these features). What I’ve used so far is an IM system which at the same time is taking me back to the stone-age text-interface 9600-baud days of ytalk (text appears as you type, character by character!) and also showing me things I’ve never seen in IM (threaded responses, the ability to reply to/mark up specific words in anyone’s messages with your commentary). I feel like this is really looking for a project to be working on together, a document to be editing together, something to be hashing out via brainstorming, stepping on toes.

But I also wonder — does it have the same functions with multimedia? (I need to test this.) The help says if someone uploads a photo, we can collaboratively caption. Can we leave comments on audio or video by timestamp? On individual PowerPoint slides? Because imagine how awesome that would be — what new kinds of conversations we could have — if my classmates and I could swarm over the recording of the teacher’s lecture + PowerPoint each week, adding questions, answering each others’ questions, adding insights, running with each other’s thoughts as well as hers…

If I were teaching an online course, I’d strongly consider this as a platform (in a few months, of course, after some of the bugs have been worked out — it’s terribly slow — and invites are widely available). And if I were needing to communicate with distant coworkers over an actual project — not just passing snippets of info back and forth but creating something together — I would be all over this, I think.

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