Google Wave: What's It For?


I recently wrapped up my first project with a client where we used Google Wave (s goog) for document collaboration and wrote about the lessons I learned along the way. In this post I am going to look forward to some of the tasks that I see Wave being used for.

  • Document Collaboration. This is probably the first “out of the box” solution for Google Wave that many organizations can think of. In my experience, there were some rough edges in my collaboration efforts using the app that will need to be ironed, out but we did complete our project successfully.
  • Team Chats. While there a number of IM, corporate microblogging and web chat solutions available, Google Wave can help consolidate such online conversations to a single medium.
  • Writing Feedback. While Darrell has a drastically different opinion than I do about Google Wave, he points out that it is an excellent tool for getting writing feedback because it offers a continuous dialogue via waves and blips.
  • Web Conferencing. With a few tweaks, you can easily turn Google Wave into an impromptu web conferencing platform. The Ribbit Conference Gadget is the first extension out of the gate for adding web conferencing to the platform. As Wave gains enterprise adoption, you can expect to see more developers releasing web conferencing extensions for Google Wave.
  • Event & Trip Planning. A wave can serve as a ready repository for event and trip planning information with you and other participants contributing blips with information about the event or trip. The Yes/No/Maybe extension can help you want to gather votes and opinions on event and trip decisions.
  • Corporate Style Guide. As a technical writer, using a wave as a document style guide presents a lot of opportunities. It has been my experience that far too many organizations still rely on style guides that are hard to reference. Google Wave makes the document searchable and easy to update.
  • Policies & Procedures. Google Wave also has potential as a publishing platform for an organization’s policies and procedures documents, because they put them online, searchable and accessible to users.
  • Status Reporting. If you start a wave just for status reports, team members can contribute blips listing their status on the project, keeping everyone updated.

How are you using Google Wave?

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Google Wave Explained



One drawback that I haven’t overcome is that I can’t print out of Wave once the collaboration on a work product is done. Any ideas?

Pamela Fox

You might try out the Ferry extension – it exports waves to Google Docs, and then you can print from there. You can find it in the extensions gallery.

Ralph Leon

Though I haven’t used Wave I have thought about it, especially during projects. It might not be perfect yet but I see this as being the next best real time tool in collaborating projects. Not just for businesses, but also for college. In a majority of classes students are faced with group projects that are overly time consuming. Instead of students having to meet constantly with their groups I can really see them benefiting from what Google Wave has to offer.

Will Kelly


You bring up an interesting point about the potential for Google Wave as a collaboration tool for student projects. I wonder if there are any students out there using it for group projects?

Pamela Fox

There are definitely students using it for projects – I just met some today doing just that (a research paper), and they added me to their project waves so I can see. They’ve got a wave for listing references, a wave with many attachments of research papers, 2 waves with drafts of their study and results, and a wave with meeting notes. Really shows off the flexibility of waves.

(Oh, and yes, full disclosure: I work on Google Wave, helping developers make extensions.).

Eric J. Gruber

I’m working with two others on a web project and 98% of the communication for it has been through Wave.

It’s so nice to have a collaboration tool that eliminates the wastefulness of e-mail. We store Photoshop files, screen shots, Word docs and hash out ideas without having to clean up replies and forwards.

It doesn’t eliminate the need for e-mail totally, but it’s a great tool for collaboration. I look forward to seeing what comes of it with future improvements.

Will Kelly

Eric– Thanks for your comment. While we did like how Google Wave got away from depending on email we did find ourselves resorting to email in some circumstances.

Eric J. Gruber

If Google had a way to notify someone, like how I’d expect ping to work, then it would help a lot.

It’s hard to get away from e-mail completely, though.

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