Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Technology Tuesday: Google Wave

This presentation is available in two formats:

OoyalaYou can view the Ooyala video version by pressing the play button above. The video is also available on YouTube.
Presentation in iPod FormatAlternatively, you can download the video as a M4V file. This version will play in iTunes, QuickTime and on iPods, iPhones and Apple TVs.

iTunes is a free download that will work on both Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X.

You are recommended to download and print the accompanying presentation handout (PDF).

What Is Google Wave?

E-mail is old... e-mail has been around since 1971 when Ray Tomlinson developed a hack to transfer files over ARPANET (the network that evolved into what we now call the Internet ). He says it took him about six hours to create — in his spare time. E-mail has not changed too dramatically over the years; this simplicity may be one of the reasons for its ubiquity. However, e-mail has inherent flaws, such as:
  • E-mail promotes the distribution of duplicate attachments, rather than sharing from a centralized repository.
  • E-mail supports limited content types.
  • E-mail does not scale well with multiple recipients and multiple messages.

Google Wave grew out of the question “What would e-mail look like if it were invented today?” As such, it is a real-time collaborative tool that assembles the elements of IM (Instant Message), Wikis, Google Docs and e-mail into one interface. Initially you may find it a little confusing to use, but Google Wave has the potential to usurp older methods of communication.

The inventors of Google Wave (Lars and Jens Rasmussen, who also created Google Maps) are science fiction geeks, and the Wave name was inspired by the television series “Firefly.” In Firefly’s universe, communication took place via “wave.” Hence the name.

Wave is a protocol, in the same way the HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is a protocol. HTTP allows netizens to create webpages and surf the Web. When Tim Berners-Lee gave HTTP and the Web to the Internet community, this transformed the world — and the way we communicate. Perhaps Google Wave may have a similar influence. Google is developing Wave, but this technology is not proprietary — others can develop the three elements of Google Wave:

  1. Protocol
    The Google Wave protocol is an open extension to the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP)
  2. Server
  3. Client
    Google Wave currently runs in the browser, but dedicated clients could be created.

How Do You Get a Google Wave Account?

There are two ways to get a Google Wave account (something that looks like jmoore.depaul@googlewave.com):

  1. Request an invitation from http://wave.google.com
  2. Ask someone you know on Google Wave for an invitation.

Option two is generally the quickest way to get an invitation. Typically, you may have to wait a week for your invitation to come through. This will be sent from the the account wave-noreply@google.com. You may have to check your spam filter to ensure that this message arrives successfully.

Running Google Wave

Google currently recommends three browsers for running Google Wave:

  1. Google Chrome
  2. Firefox
    For a better experience, install Google Gears:
  3. Safari
    Google Gears currently does not install on OS X Snow Leopard

Mobile Devices

Google Wave will run on the iPhone (if you ignore the error message), on the Palm Pre (with a hack to make the browser to report as Mobile Safari) and on Android mobile telephones.

Google Wave Interface

Google Wave’s interface is fairly straightforward - with 4 primary panes:

  1. Navigation
  2. Contacts
  3. Inbox
  4. Conversation

Google Wave Structure

Google Wave operates by using Wavelets. A Wavelet is a container for:

  • Participants
    Each wave has one of more participants:
    • Humans
      Wave users.
    • Robots (Extension)
      Robots are automated agents that perform a specific function, such as providing poll results or linking usernames to Twitter.
    • Public
      Adding public@a.gwave.com to a wave makes that wave public.
  • Blips
    Blips are the individual messages within a wave. A blip can contain another blip.
    • Gadgets (Extension)
      Gadgets are mini-applications that run within the browser, such as:
      • Google Search
      • Yes / No / Maybe
      • Google Maps
      • Ribbit Conference Call
      • 6 Rounds Video Chat
      • Lonely Planet Trip Planning
      • AccuWeather
      • Sudoku
  • Documents
    Documents are attached to blips.


Google Wave has just been launched. The product may enter history as one of Google’s interesting experiments, or it may take off. If Google Wave is a success, then there are some possible outcomes:

  • Existing e-mail services are replaced.
  • Users migrate from social networks.
  • Wave becomes the new standard for online collaboration.
  • Wave becomes new standard for project management.
  • Integration with Learning Management Systems (or replaces Learning Management Systems).

Internet Resources

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