Google kicks off new Wave of communications

What if you could get all the benefits of e-mail, IM, web chat, wikis, blogs and something like SharePoint or Groove with just one fast, real-time browser-based application? That's the idea behind Google Wave, a startling new product Google previewed at yesterday's Google I/O conference.

According to Mashable's Ben Parr, Wave is expected to be as disruptive a communications technology as e-mail was when it first arrived. And since it's open source, Google is betting that developers will continue to refine and extend it, making it even more useful and all-encompassing as time goes on.

Developed by Lars Rasmussen and his brother Jens, the creators of Google Maps, Wave not only is a hybrid e-mail/IM/chat/collaboration tool, but it also provides true flexibility in that anyone can join a Wave conversation at any time, play back what they've missed, add content anywhere within the conversation (including drag-and-drop pictures, text, videos, maps etc.), and see other users adding info and text in real time, character by character. In a Google blog, Lars describes it this way:

In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

It's hard to picture, but here's a video of the preview presentation that should help (the real demo starts at about the 7:35 mark):

While some may feel that Google is so last year when it comes to search, a point that is debatable at best, few can say the company fails to push the envelope when it comes to Web-based communications and collaboration. And Wave only underscores the point.

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