Google Wave: Explicit Collaboration


Just announced is an interesting new platform from Google, around shared collaboration environments.  Explicitly-shared environments.

A “wave” is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more…Here’s how it works: 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.

Now, add a search layer into this rich, shared space, and you’ll have something quite akin to Merrie Morris’ SearchTogether system, which combines real-time awareness with a collaboratively authored results and note set.  Put some algorithmic mediation under that, and you’ll have some of the projects that we’ve been working over the past few years here at FXPAL, which uses real-time actions and behaviors of multiple, explicitly collaborating team members to alter and inform the information that each individual sees.  We think that the ability to put jointly-relevant information on the same real-time page, but also let users explicitly work together in the finding and discovery of that information, is and will continue to be an extremely useful application.

Looks like this space is heating up.


  1. I was at Google I/O and Wave really was a great success. Of course, having received a free G1 (Google Phone) the day before helped ;) What I like about Google’s Wave is that it makes sense now to have it. I’m sure previous research on Operational Transforms was really useful for them to come up with their fast and efficient implementation, but that’s what research is for.

    I also went to many session on App Engine, which doesn’t support long-polling (COMET), making it hard to develop real-time web applications such as screen-sharing, chat or IM.

    But now that Wave is here, the real-time part is here.

    They also announced Task Queues for App Engine, so we will also have background processing tasks, making our web applications lightning fast for our users (long tasks can be deferred to later into the queue, and our app can respond quickly to our user).

    Finally, Google I/O was a big push to HTML5, which blurs even more the boundary between Web as we knew it and desktop, except that the main development language will be Javascript.

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