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For the last month or so, I’ve been playing around with Google newest online toy; Google Wave. Billed as a “personal communication and collaboration tool”, it is designed to combine email, IM, wikis and social networking. Written in Java, using OpenJDK, Google has announced plans to release most of the source code as Open Source.
As a communications platform, it is fun, and I like the way it combines instant messaging with logs, meaning that you can see how a conversation has taken place. The playback function is simple to use, and allows you to see context in a nifty way. It also means that you can use Wave as a presentation tool, should you so wish.
As for using it for project planning and communication, which I think is likely to be one of its most used applications, it looks pretty good. Indenting messages could, and should be simpler – they now get automatically indented if inserted between two other messages, but otherwise they are not indented. That’s definitely a function I’d like to see.
Another feature I’d like to see, is an option to share a wave publicly, giving you a URL to post to a tweet, a blogpost or the like, so that people who don’t have a Wave account can see the discussion. I hope this is something that will be coming, and I think it’s likely that we’re going to see it, keeping in mind that this is a feature that the guys at Google are more than somewhat familiar with, as we can find it in Google Calendar as well as Google Docs.
The last thing that kinda irks me, is that there is no print-function. While I’m all for a Wave being a digital entity, it would be good, I think to have the option to print a wave. I’ve already had one situation where I wanted to do so, but ended up having to copy all the text over to a document, which somewhat makes the point of the wave go away.
All in all, I’m pretty impressed by Google Wave. I see a lot of potential in it, and I’m definitely going to keep playing around with it. I’m already using it to plan one project all by my lonesome, as well as communicating with a mate about the translation of his role playing game to English.