Join the Wave: Google’s Not-So-Secret Society

Google_Wave_Logo

I recently received an invitation to the most exclusive group in town; a Cool Kids Club, if you will. The fact that this tight-knit group is comprised of 100,000+ cool kids is of no concern to me. The way I see it, the world is now separated into two groups of people: those who been invited to preview Google Wave and those who haven’t.  Whether or not you have been chosen, I invite you to read this enlightening overview of the platform.

Google Wave is a brand new, real-time communication service that three Australian masterminds created, all of whom were previously involved in Google Maps. It is a conglomerate of different aspects of email, instant messaging, and wikis. Web chat, social networking, and project management are also featured in the platform. These functions all work together to build what Mashable Online has dubbed “one elegant, in-browser communication client.”

A wave is a threaded conversation that can include one other user, a group of users, or even robots.  A robot is an automated participant inside a specific wave that can interact with waves and converse with other users. These robots can offer information from external sources, such as Twitter, and are considered extensions.

Extensions are mini-applications that function within a wave.  Along with robots, gadgets also exist as primary extensions. Gadgets are like Facebook apps and many of them are built on Google’s OpenSocial platform.  Google Wave gives developers the opportunity to build applications and these extensions within waves, like with a Facebook application or an iGoogle gadget. These can consist of anything from bots to intricate, real-time games. To encourage innovation among developers, the Google Wave code is open source.

Another attractive function that Google Wave offers is real-time chat.  This chat allows the user, most times, to see what another member of the wave is typing, character-by-character. Google Wave also has a playback function so you can review any piece of the wave’s conversation.  Since all conversations within a platform are shared, any user within a developing conversation can edit information or add commentary. This feature is especially helpful in keeping one’s waves focused and concise. Initial reactions to real-time chatting can result in messages like, “OMG!!! I can see you typing!!!!! This is so cool!” The wiki functionality allows you to tidy up this enthusiasm.

As if it’s not enough that Google Wave is good-looking and popular, it also knows natural language. It can autocorrect your spelling and knows the difference between similar words, such as “red” and “read.” Google Wave can also auto-translate at the drop of a hat.

To those of you longingly watching this dance party from outside the discotech, don’t lose hope.  Google Wave awards those who obsessively update their waves with a slew of invites to extend to friends.  So, ask around and find that one friend who will welcome you in to the clique.

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