How We Might Use Google Wave

02Oct09

Time for my favorite post of the series.

As I’ve looked around the web for opinions and analysis of Google Wave, I can’t help but notice they’re all talking about the wrong thing. They’re talking about the product, rather than the platform.

When email was first introduced, the exciting part of it wasn’t how it worked, but what it allowed us to do. In a similar way, I’ve put my imagination to use as to how Google Wave might be used. Some of the ideas I’ve listed below are good and some aren’t, but as I understand it, they should all be possible. And as best I can tell, that’s what the wave concept needs more than anything else right now… some creative thinking.

Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.

Publishing Applications

While probably not possible for longer works (ie. novels), I think a great application for waves would be between reporters and editors. This is a situation where there’s a simply formatted document, produced under a deadline, that needs close-knit work between two or more people. The tools wave makes available could alleviate versioning issues and keep everyone more engaged with the document as it changes over time.

And once the document’s finished, why not simply publish the wave instead of creating a copy? Updates and corrections can be made to it as soon as they’re known, and comments can be taken in from the Web right on the wave. If one trusts the audience enough, they could even let them add links and supporting documentation from other sources straight to the wave. There may be a few rights issues to work out, but it seems possible that one single document could become the way news is written in the future from draft to edit to post.

One of my favorite feedback opportunities (listed below because it involves automation) is creating a gadget/robot that allows readers of a published wave to vote up or down not just on the post, but on every sentence. The could give the author very specific feedback on what people like and don’t like in the piece.

Automation Opportunities

I’m a big fan of the potential for robots working on waves. Here’s a brief list of some robot ideas I thought of:

  • A robot that checks out any link you paste in, filling out the appropriate bibliographic information in a specified format (MLA, etc.)
  • Create an in-house grammar/style bot so that errors might be caught as they are written (AP Style bot, etc.)
  • An automated spelling corrector… clearly only for egregious misspellings
  • If you use Wave as an RSS reader, automatically push blips you mark to a new, public wave
  • Measuring the thumbs up and thumbs down votes of every sentence in a piece, for specific audience feedback

That’s what I came up with in about a half hour of pondering, and I can’t wait to see what others come up with.

Waves as the New Forums

Forums are great and will probably never die, but what would they be like if we had a wave for each thread instead of a UI that varies from forum to forum? Each forum could implement things that make it unique such as particular gadgets or robots that respond to newcomers, banned phrases, and such, but users could manage all their forum posts from the same client.

Government Opportunities

One of the first things I thought of when I saw Wave was that Congress could literally put legislation together with the tool. Then, with the barriers to watching so low, people could also join in to their favorite legislation’s wave and follow along with the updates. Or, they could express their opinions right in the legislative text. While not the most efficient thing to do, it would certainly be a different way to interact with Congress compared to what people do now.

Being able to track amendments, earmarks, and all the rest with a clear time line seem like an easy win for the public in this case.

Give it a minute and really think, how could waves be used in the future?

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One Response to “How We Might Use Google Wave”

  1. Hello. I have ideas of how to make a still much more useful system by developing further innovations: http://spoirier.lautre.net/beyond-google-wave


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