What Are You Supposed to DO With Google Wave? Collaborate

Photo credit: The talented Mr. Natty Graham

Google Wave was announced back in May of 2009 (eons ago) and then we all waited for our invites with anticipation. Then we waited some more and we heard about other people that got them. Fits of jealousy came over us like the kid who got the lame doll while their neighbor got the whole He-Man Castle Grey Skull and you had to sit and listen to how cool it was, but I digress…

Then FINALLY you get your invitation! You login and… what the heck are you supposed to do with this thing?

The nice people at Google have described Google Wave as an ‘online collaboration tool’. Ok? Cool. So… now what am I supposed to do? The interface is confusing, there is no step by step ‘get me started button’ so what do I do?

My Google Wave experience started with a dozen or so of my geek friends (I mean that in the nicest way possible) starting waves that were titled:

‘You figure this thing out yet?’
‘You doing much with Wave yet?’
‘How does this work?’
and then just silence for a few months.

As time passed, my Google Wave collected dust until I found a project that fit with what Google Wave was created for: collaboration

Collaboration Waves

Here is a thought: We didn’t know we NEEDED the iPhone until after it came out. Now I am concerned I would not be able to live without mine. I didn’t know I needed the functionality of Google Wave until months later. We are in a world with less business meetings and more GoToMeetings, less phone calls and more emails, less internal emails and more Instant Messaging et al.,  perhaps we (some of us) needed an online tool that was 100% a joint effort and in real time.

Do you use Google Docs? It is a little like that but in real time.

What does it do?

  • Real time conversation – As you type (no really, like AS you type) the people in your wave can see your text. You can edit and add notes to parts of the conversation. I only know my experience, but I have heard that this interaction is one step ahead of email in prioritization but the response does not need to be immediate if you don’t want it to be.

    One Example: – Imagine taking notes in a meeting but everyone can add to them. Add comments or links for more information and then everyone has access to the meeting notes after the meeting is over.

    Another Example: – Ever have a group email going to multiple decision makers? Some people on the email are right on top of replying back quickly and you continue a big back and forth. Then someone else replies to an email from hours ago answering a question you resolved this morning. With Google Wave it is all documented in order and you can go back and answer a question from hours ago or get right back in on where the conversation last left off.

  • Images and Documents – As you build your content you can easily add documents, photos, even video and maps to your wave. As necessary, you can send these files and resources to your team in less time than it would take to email it to them.

    One Example: – When planning an event, the organizers can share all their resources like maps to the event, photos of the location or attendees and so much more.

  • Document the process: – When collaborating on a document sometimes we loose how we got to the final product in the first place. With Google Wave you can have a record of how you got to the end result.

    One example: – Putting together an eBook or a real book? Perhaps some of your good content was left on the cutting room floor? Now you have it documented in a place you can refer to at anytime to make a sequel or Part II.

    Another idea: some of my favorite parts of movies are the outtakes. Maybe your content outtakes could be fun and useful as well.

  • Organize by Content – Not only can you organize your collaboration by time of posts but you can make offshoots of your waves by topic and keep organized that way. Example: – Working on a book or eBook again? You can organize your thoughts and resources by chapter and not just in one stream.

I still don’t get it

Photo credit: The talented Mr. Natty Graham

Good news! You don’t have to! Just because a new form of technology comes out does not mean you have to be an expert in it. Perhaps if this makes no sense to you, that is because you aren’t in the target market for Google Wave. Nothing wrong with that.

If you think you can work just fine with email, the phone, IM, Google docs etc. then go for it. Nothing wrong with that either.

I do think it is important for you to get an understanding of what you CAN do with Google Wave and if down the road you see a collaboration opportunity that could use these features, you know where to go.

Now that you perhaps have a little bit more of an understanding, I hope that takes some pressure off if you weren’t amazed with Google Wave.

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