Google Wave continues to enthrall and confuse at the same time. This is a whole new line of communication and is fundamentally much more than just a revision of the basic e-mail concept, as some have said. E-mail as we know it is basically a static concept – distributing notifications back and forth, where they reside in a “box” as a dead object until somebody responds by creating a similar static object, which in turn is distributed for further action. A wave is more like a collaboration, which can be in real time, between interested parties. The concept can be discussed, elaborated, enlarged and supported and made available for input from any number of interested parties. While we are only just getting used to the concept of social communications through the likes of Twitter and Facebook, a wave is likely to represent a far more interactive and real-time collaboration between participants. For many people, it’s concept is still somewhat alien and in truth we have nothing to compare it to as yet.
Google Wave is still in the process of development, but a number of really cool uses have emerged to support its potential. While the heading of this blog refers to “unusual uses,” the fact is that every use of this emerging medium is innovative and while some are still trying to decipher how to really use a wave for best effect, others seem to have hit on some productive reasons.
Topically, the group responsible for distributing H1N1 vaccine for the dreaded swine flu realized that they were allocating a considerable amount of time and wasted resources to meetings and other disjointed two-way conversations. They relied heavily on e-mails, instant messages and so on between distribution points, administrators, scientists and overseers. By setting up a wave, they would all be able to work simultaneously on an issue, cutting through all those duplications and the needless checking of documentation, allowing the message to get out to the public and other interested parties very much faster.
At a tech savvy conference called Ecomm, wave accounts were doled out to attendees who could then collaborate in real-time and interact with content as it was being presented. Fundamentally, a wave would first be created by an audience member and then others could edit its content on the fly. This resulted in a far more detailed and richer transcript, enabling fresh thoughts and points of view to be recorded while they were most appropriate. This type of approach will undoubtedly result in a much more accurate and productive rendition of an interactive conference.
In an airport, so much information needs to be shared between so many people and can be the subject of critical safety awareness. An air traffic control wave could incorporate real-time weather updates, particular ground delays or situations, construction problems or data from other parts of the country affecting arrivals. Generally, being able to keep everyone abreast of situations as they arise (or even before) can only help to achieve efficiencies within such a time critical environment.
Potential applications for waves are almost limitless, as soon as the public in general becomes more comfortable with the actual concept. Adoption is likely to take some time, though.
Do you currently “wave” at anybody?