Google Wave - What Is It And How Do I Use It?

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Google Wave - What Is It and How Do I Use It?

So, What Is Google Wave?

Google Wave is a new web application that lets people communicate and collaborate in real time, doing away with the usual round of telephone calls, leaving messages and the other frustrations that seem to always slow down life.

With Google Wave you can communicate and work together with a group of people through conversations, documents, maps and much more.

Basically, a wave is defined as a shared space on the Internet that is updated in real time by anyone participating in the wave. Everyone included in the wave can edit, add comments, videos, maps, photographs dynamically – much like a real meeting at a real location, except that with Google Wave the meeting happens in cyber space.

And one of the advantages of a Google Wave is that anyone can instantly rewind the wave to see what’s been said or added previously.

A Google Wave can be kept strictly private, restricted to a small, select group or be completely open to anyone. Just think of the possibilities – you could start a wave to discuss a major event, such as the soccer world cup, plan a holiday and add or remove possible destinations, even plan something as mundane as a local neighbourhood clean-up day.

How Can I Use Google Wave?

Firstly, you need to create a Google Wave account to be able to use Google Wave. Once you’ve done this and signed in, you’ll be part of the Google Wave community.

Take some time to explore the four main panels inside the Google Wave application – the navigation panel, the contacts panel, the search panel and the actual wave panel. All of these can be minimised to allow extra space for the other panels.

The wave panel is where you can actually view, compose and edit what’s going on in the selected wave – you select the wave you’re interested in through the search panel, which lists all your current waves.

To start a new wave, simply click on “New Wave” at the top of the search panel. You can add other people to the wave by dragging and dropping people from your contacts panel or add email addresses for people you’d like to invite.

If you want to participate in an existing wave, first open the wave from your search panel, and simply click “Reply” above the content of the wave in your wave panel.

Extending Google Wave

As with many other Internet applications, Google Wave has the ability to be extended. Google Wave has its own series of extensions, known as Wave Bots (short for robot), that look like any other participant in a wave, but is programmed to automatically perform some function in the wave. A few examples of Wave Bots are:

Xmmp Lite:
This bot sends you an automatic notification if something happens in a wave in which you’re participating, even while you’re not watching the wave.

While you can add images to a wave that are on your own computer, the Inbeddable bot allows you to add images from other Internet sites without having to download them to your computer first.

Eliza the Robot Shrink:
Eliza is a programmed therapist that can chat with you in Google Wave.

Dr. Maps:
Dr. Maps allows you to update a Google Wave by inserting a map associated with an address.

As you can see, this brave new world of Google Wave uses a whole new set of jargon. As well as Bots and Waves, you may also become confused by the terms Wavelets and Gadgets.

Wavelets are simply sub-conversations that have branched off from a main wave. If you imagine a wave as a tree, wavelets are the branches on the tree. Depending on your access level, you may or may not be able to view what’s happening in a wavelet, even though you have access to the main wave.

Gadgets are similar to Bots to add functionality to Google Wave. Gadgets are small applications that you can insert in any wave to extend the ability to share, interact and collaborate with other people in the wave. Examples of gadgets are the Ribbit Conference Call gadget that lets you instantly set up a conference call with whichever wave participants you choose, or the Video Chat gadget that as its name suggests, enables you to start a video chat with another wave participant.

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