Google Wave Used for Disparate Collaboration Cases

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-02-22

More than one million people are actively using Google Wave, the search engine's real-time collaboration platform, to work together on various projects.

Google periodically publishes use cases for Wave. While these prove quite different in nature, they're all linked by a common thread: collaboration among multiple people or co-workers to achieve common objectives.

Co-workers are using Wave to instant message each other, share files and documents and edit each other's work, all in real time. Users can even play back Wave content and interactions.

Collaborative debate Website used Wave recently to let 1,000 people from more than 130 countries debate issues arising from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This Global Youth Panel used Wave to debate climate change, sharing links and other content.

To do this in a manageable fashion, founder David Crane said the panel created one index wave containing links to all the debates, each of which had its own set of sub-waves, one for each point making up the debate. 

To get debaters to write summaries of the discussion in the first Wave blip, Crane and his colleagues exercised a little social engineering by leaving notes in a blip saying "Part of point added to the summary," to publicly pat participants on the back. Wave's design, real-time communication and playback feature enabled this to work.

"I'm a huge believer in collective intelligence and think these tools give Google Wave significant advantages over a traditional wiki for bringing new participants into the fold," Crane said. "As a result, we had healthy, live debates on a global scale, giving a voice to youth around the planet in an international forum, and have learned what to do next time."

Caroline Dahll??éf and Carolyn Uy, founders of application development outfit Lyn And Lineuse Google Wave to create educational story applications, such as The Rescue of Ginger. Ginger, targeted for children between the ages of 2 and 5, is available on smartphones based on the Google Android and Apple iPhone platforms.

Colleagues Dahll??éf and Uy live more than 5,000 miles apart with a time difference of nine hours. While one is sleeping, the other is working, leaving messages and source code in Google Wave for the other to see at her convenience. Moreover, they use multiple waves to compartmentalize their workflows.

Dahll??éf and Uy said they use a wave to work on source code changes together; one for tracking bugs, a wave for storyboarding, where they add, edit, or comment on each other's ideas. They have a separate wave for people they need to contact.

"The beauty of this organization is that every morning, we can look at our inboxes and get a quick overview of what the other person has been doing," Dahll??éf and Uy said. "Because Google Wave notifies us when there is a change, there is no need for an extra e-mail summarizing what has happened.... Having all of our conversations in different waves has made it easy for us to stay informed despite the distance and time difference."

Dennis Elliot, the Web manager at Clear Channel Radio in Greensboro, N.C., said he created a wave called Big Game Home Invasion, an on air and online promotion involving two clients that required input from sales people, the sales manager, the station program director, the station promotions director, the online content coordinator and himself.  

10 Things Microsoft Must Do with Office 2010 to Beat Google"Without a Wave, we would have had to resort to numerous back and forth e-mails, sending graphics files to each other for approval, having people go from office to office to see updates and answer questions and lots of time tracking people down by phone. Instead, we did the entire project in Wave in just a fraction of the amount of time it would normally have taken," Elliot said.

So there are people using Wave for collaboration beyond just, the "OK, I'm here now what the heck do I do with it" reaction some consumers ascribe to the platform.  

Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler told eWEEK he doesn't discount the early use cases, adding that Forrester is working on a session on Wave as an example of next-generation collaboration tools for distributed teams for its next IT Forum.

"Wave is still in the 'what's it good for?' stage," Schadler added. "But it's a classic c&e problem [chicken & egg]. It's only disappointing, though, in the context of the big bang with which they launched it and it was received."

Too ballyhooed or not, Wave is rolling out to all consumers and businesses in 2010, Google Enterprise President Dave Girouard said.


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