Tuesday, June 2, 2009

An imaginary day with Google Wave

There has been a whole lot of buzz over the past week about the upcoming release of Google Wave. For those of you that have not had the chance to read about this new software that Google will be releasing later this year, let me try to lay things out.

Wave is a new communications platform that takes e-mail, IM, document collaboration, photo sharing, and just about every other type of communication you can think of and shakes them all up together. Sprinkle on a huge dash of real time streaming access and you have Google Wave. Don't beleive me? Tuck in for the next hour or so and check out the keynote from the Google I/O developers conference.

I have been reading a lot about the new service, and not too much is known at this time. Still, I must admit that it has me pretty excited. The last time I was this excited about a Google product launch it was for the now defunct Google Notebook, which turned out to be a dud...I think Wave will be different.

The anticipation for new products like this is perhaps more interesting than the actual release. It is this anticipation that I have been focusing on in my mind recently, and I started running through little scenarios of how a day using Wave as my main method of communication might work. Of course this is all anticipation, and I really have no idea how the product will work when it is released.

I am thinking about this tool from the perspective of my professional life. The open source nature of this product means that I should be able to download and run a Wave server behind the firewall at work. This would make a huge difference in the ability for me to actually get it implemented. So in my imagination what does a day with Wave look like?
  • I arrive at the office and notice a new wave in my inbox from our IT guy in the Beijing office. He is confirming that the changes we made to some software settings have indeed improved application performance over the WAN. Since the change affects the way things work in that office, I add the Help Desk supervisor to the Wave so that she can give the details out to her staff.
  • I notice a few new items have arrived from my Google Alerts which now feed directly into my Wave. I read through a couple, and see that Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 will release in late October. This is good to know and I add the OS team to the Wave so that we can comment on the news.
  • Later in the morning, a call comes in from the help desk about an error someone is having in Outlook. It has front line support stumped, and so they have pulled me in to help them out. Support uploads a screenshot of the error message to the wave so that I can see it. We discuss the error, and I do a bit of research. I determine that an unsupported 3rd party addin to Outlook is likey causing the issue, and add a link to a MSKB article with details on the issue. I ask support to disable the addin and see if that fixes the problem.
  • The Wave from earlier in the day regarding the change in Beijing bounces back to the top of my Inbox. The help desk staff has been added and there is a question from one of the guys wondering if the change may have an unintended consquence. Since both myself, and the analyst who made the change originally are on the wave we both see it and can do a little bit of research. Turns out the consequence will not occur, and we update the wave.
  • Around lunch time the standard lunch Wave pops up and we all add in our vote for what we should do for lunch today. It's raining, and we decide to stay in. I add a poll to the Wave offering up a few boardgames I have in the office to see if anyone wants a quick game. Ticket to Ride wins and I bring the game along to lunch.
  • After lunch I see that the removal of the Outlook addin did fix the problem, and I clean up the formatting in the wave to better describe the problem and solution. I then use the integration with our help desk KB system to automatically add a new support article.
  • We have some new software going out in a few days and need to get an e-mail notification out to the rest of the firm. The software deployment team sends a Wave with a first draft of the e-mail to the applications and training teams. There are a few small changes to be made from a technical standpoint, and the training department quickly drops in some links from the integrated learning management system. Now the e-mail will contain all the class times and dates for training. Once the message is ready we flag it to follow up in a few days when we will be ready to send it.
  • Throughout the day I see various posts from Twitter, FriendFeed and Google Reader searches on topics of interest to me. I share out the ones that are interesting to other members of my team, and tag them for easy retrieval.
This has been in my head because this was basically 'a day in the life' for me one day this week. I embelished a few of the items with extra details and we used e-mail for everything here (which was slow and resulted in literally hundreds of items in my inbox), but otherwise this what it. Google Wave would allow all of this discussion and collaboration to happen in real time, and allow people to be brought into the covnersation dynamically as they are needed. Everything happens in the Wave, and the discussions can be saved out to other systems for archival purposes. If you could throw voice and video in the mix it would be even better I think.

I am pretty excited about Google Wave, and I really hope it is not too long before I can try it out. More importantly, I hope it can do al of these things and more. I should also add that I like the Wave logo and t-shirts a lot. Google should send me one. :)

Oh, and I am sure I am not the only one to think of Firefly/Serenity when they hear or read Wave.

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