10 Persistent Messaging Problems That Google Wave Solves

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10 Persistent Messaging Problems That Google Wave Solves

by Clint Boulton

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Wave Frees Us from Collaboration Stagnation

Google Wave is free and open source, allowing developers from many levels of experiences to write extensions for it. Novell has already built a Wave server, providing a solid enterprise use scenario. It's likely many others will follow, paving the way for richer applications. After years of corporate enslavement by the Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes e-mail vanguard, Wave can solve the problem of collaboration stagnation.

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Switching from E-Mail to IM and Back to E-Mail

When we use instant messaging, it's separate from e-mail. We have to switch back and forth between our IM app and our e-mail app. Tenner noted that while Google Talk tried to resolve that issue by storing IM conversations in your in-box, Wave intuitively turns into an IM-like platform for rapid replies and turns back into an e-mail-like platform when communications slow down.

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Text Collaboration

People don't really collaborate via e-mail, and when they do, it's "a nightmare to keep track of and collate all that feedback," Tenner said. Google Wave resolves that by effectively integrating real-time, versioning features into the e-mail client.

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Adding Contacts to a Conversation

While e-mail apps let users forward the whole thread to a new participant, or add them into the next reply, it's mucked up by reverse chronological order. Google Wave solves that by giving exactly the same view to everyone, Tenner said.

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Keeping Contacts in Touch

Often, when users add new contacts to an e-mail thread, they get dropped again when someone replies to all from an earlier e-mail that didn't include the new participants. Wave solves that by making the act of "dropping people" explicit, rather than accidental, Tenner said.

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File Attachment

Who likes attaching files in e-mail messages? Don't everyone raise their hand at once. With people exchanging more and more files in the workplace, most companies cap their workers' in-box storage capacities. Tenner said that while sending e-mails over 10MB usually fails, attaching a 10MB file to a Wave e-mail is no problem at all.

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Lost Attachment

Everyone who uses Outlook knows that attachments get dropped when you reply to a contact. If you bring new people into a conversation, they won't get any of the attachments. Wave keeps attachments present and intact, Tenner noted.

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Multiple Conversations

E-mail threads tend to be flat, one to one, one to many, or many to many. Google Wave resolves this by allowing clean threading. "Yes, if you use a lot of threading in an instant messaging context, it will be hard to manage. But within the typical e-mail collaboration context, it will keep things a lot more clean and tidy than not having threading," Tenner explained.

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The Corrections

Correcting typos in e-mail is rough. "You need to quote the context, highlight which bit you corrected, and then rely on the other person applying your changes back to the original document. With Wave, no such problem—you can just edit the original text and make those changes. If the person who submitted that document wants to review your changes, they can play them back," Tenner explained.

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One Last Thing

Sure, Wave is new and a little scary. You don't think e-mail or instant messaging were scary when people started using them years ago? Change can be scary, but change can be good. And Wave is not change for change's sake—it's the start of an evolving collaboration paradigm. Remember, this is just an experimental rollout. Expect Wave to have more features to enable asynchronous communications in addition to all of the right-away real-time exchanges. And expect more Wave servers from Novell and others embracing the change. Get enough Wave servers talking, and we may see a challenger for e-mail in the workspace.

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