Monday, March 29, 2010

What is Google Wave?

Written by: Catherine Liu

I recently came across an article in Times Magazine about a new communication tool called Google Wave. It has yet to be fully released, and is therefore not too well known. Even those people that have heard of it oftentimes do not know exactly what it is. One way to become acquainted with Google Wave is to watch Google’s explanatory video filmed at the Google Wave Developer Preview I/O 2009 Event. However, if you don’t have the time and energy to watch an hour and twenty minute long video (who does?) here are the essentials of what is discussed so you can get an idea of what Google Wave is, what it is used for, and how to use it yourself.

What is it?
Google Wave is “a personal communication and collaboration tool” that is going to be “an open system of communication”. It builds on the idea of e-mail, but instead of treating the conversations as individual messages, an entire conversation is treated as a shared object hosted on a server. This means that users can enter a "Wave" and be able to see the original message, all of the replies, photos, documents, and anything and everything that has been said. To put in simply , a "Wave" is essentially a long email thread where everyone "replies to all" -- but instead of a cluttered and confusing email chain, it is all contained on one simple, easy server.

The Basics:
•Click "New Wave" to begin a new thread, and type a title in the first line.
•Once you finish typing your message, click "Done" and it will ask if you would like to add more users. This is when you choose who will receive the message and therefore have access to this "Wave".
•When you receive a message, you can reply to it by simply splitting apart the message and inserting your response directly in the part of the original that you want. It is sort of like editing the original message to add your own thoughts.
•When users happen to be on together, you could do a wave "IM". The difference between regular IM and the IM in Wave is that every character you type is transmitted as you type, even before you click done or enter to send your response. You can also choose to disable this function so no one sees what you are typing until you hit "Done". This is really cool, and is some sort of middle ground between chatting online and chatting in person.
•You can add a person to an ongoing conversation. (Usually with e-mail, the newest person to the conversation would not have access to the previous conversations/emails.) You would place that person into the Wave and they would have access to the conversation and the original message as well (to access the original message and previous edits or additions, click on "playback"). The new participant can now join the conversation with ease (very useful for group conversations).
•You use "Private Reply" when you don’t want all the participants to see the message you write. You may also add participants you do want to see the message by adding them to the private reply thread.

•To attach pictures, you simply drag them into the wave. You can upload and download pictures, create group photo albums, copy images from one Wave to another new one, etc.

•You can embed the whole Wave onto a webpage - a cool feature that expands group viewing capabilities much further.

•You can use Wave on mobile devices
•New Spell Checker: It doesn’t just find your word by matching it up with words in the dictionary…it takes into account the context of the word so it helps you find the word you need even faster! Sometimes it automatically corrects your errors!
•Gadgets and Games: Play games (like soduku, chess) with all the benefits of Wave's playback
•Translations: Wave translates your sentence automatically into your desired language. Currently there are 40 languages available and it will translate between any pair of languages you choose.

My first impression of Google Wave is quite positive. It is a new, more convenient way to communicate, combining already existing communication forms into one easy-to-use space. Wave allows for real time communication among large groups of people. It is a whole new way of sharing online.

For More Information:

Edited by: Sara Saldi


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