Waving goodbye to Google Wave

The internet is rife with news of how Google Wave will be wrapped up soon. Most of us didn’t jump on the Wave bandwagon and half of us probably don’t know what it is all about. Wave is a real-time communication and collaboration platform built using Java’s Open JDK and the Google Web Toolkit. It synergises your email, instant messaging and social networking into one environment. We’ve seen this kind of convergence before in technology. Once upon a time man used to have cameras separately and mobile phones separately. Today most of the population owns a cell phone that does both.

When Wave was launched, it was by invitation only. A model that has been very successful in the past by Google. In fact you may be surprised to know that these invitations fetched as much as $5000 bids on eBay.

How did Google envision the wave to work? A Wave was a blend of documentation and conversation. Members of the Wave could then reply anywhere within the message. Additional members to the wave could be added on at any point. Changes to the Wave are notified to all participants and can be viewed in chronological order.

What makes Wave so special is that the blend of chat, emails, wikis, and forums are all done in real time. People could work together with text, photos, videos, maps, and more. Because it was in real time, if someone was typing a message, members logged onto the Wave would be able to see it being typed. The advantage of a Wave from traditional e-mail was that there are no multiple copies or versions of the same message lying around in different people’s inboxes. More importantly a Wave allows you to embed photos, videos etc within the wave itself. Gone are the days of attachments.

Wave has found application across various areas such as education, creative collaboration, organizations, conferences and even journalism. Waves can either be between two people or made open to the public. The playback feature of the wave allows one to see how the wave evolved to its current state. It is an ideal tool for collaborative minute making, group brainstorming and multimedia chat sessions.

The announcement that Google was pulling the plug on its Wave platform has lead to a lot of debate and has put the platform in the spotlight once again. A die-hard community of Wave users have set up a protest site savegooglewave.com to ensure that development continues on the project or that the code is made open source at least. It will be interesting to see how this develops in the future.

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