Google Wave

I’ve worked really hard over the last couple of days to make sense of the Google Wave demo from the weekend. I’ve actually taken three days to watch the demo and I have to say I am both a bit stunned and impressed. Clearly this is a huge move and one that has big implications for all of us in the .edu space. If it will be ultimately successful as a product I can’t say quite yet — I was not lucky enough to be there and to get a developer account. I’m not even going to attempt to do a review or an overview … there are plenty of those available online and the demo gives a good a view as you are going to get for the time being.

There are a couple of things I do want to throw out as reactions and see if anyone else is thinking about this stuff — and I will be wanting to talk about it when we run into each other. The first thing that comes to mind is how obvious this all is — I mean once I’d seen it. They released the tool that so many people I spend time with are always talking about, typicaly in terms like “wouldn’t it be cool if we could just edit this document in real time and just blah, blah, blah.” In so many ways, it is a real representation of the many conversations I’ve had the last several years. Once I started to see how documents could be authored in such a naturally collaborative fashion I was sold. I’ve honestly not seen something so paradigm bending in a single demo in quite a long time.

Just the portion of the demo where they are collaboritivly editing a Wave that gets instantly published to a blog is mind blowing. When anyone can wander up to that blog post and drop comments or edits and it flows back into the Wave I was beyond astonished. I can now use a blog for a big class and have every single conversation happen in real time either in that blog or in my Wave client (if that is even a real thing). Instead of browsing to sites (even via an RSS reader) I can just stay in Wave and watch all of the conversations happen. Everything I need to do can live there — I think. If it really does pull together email, Twitter, and Herculean-powered google doc like features then I can only begin to see how this can change how we use technology in the classroom. Sign me up for that as my google for education suite — you can keep the rest.

And that is one of the other things that just blows my mind … Google previewed something that could make so much of their other stuff obsolete (even before much of it comes out of beta). Honestly, why would I use separate spaces for email, collaborative document creation, project management, communication, publishing, form building, and conversations of every shape and size when I can simply live in the Wave environment. Until I see it I can’t say for sure, but so far I am impressed.

As I was watching the demo I was hanging out with my friend and colleague, Scott McDonald. Scott and I taught a course together that has gotten some press for our use of Twitter … as we are watching this demo we kept chomping at the bit to give it a go next Spring. What it left me wondering was if this will be viewed as a massively disruptive environment like nearly all the other social platforms are, or if it will be welcomed into our teaching and learning environments? It seems to have so much of what we’d want from a platform that the implications for our work is enormous. I have to say I am very anxious to see how it plays with several of the ideas Scott and I have been tossing around.

The timing is amazing as well … just as we and so many others are entering into transitional periods with our LMS/CMS environments Wave has come along and shattered our notions of what it means to use the web as a platform to empower real time conversations. I know the traditional systems cannot catch up to something like this in time, it is quite frankly just too damn insane of an environment for them to latch onto. This isn’t like bolting a blogging platform to an existing code base, this is about rethinking the way we do things together face to face and online. It is about completely rethinking learning, teaching, authoring, sharing, collaborating, and so much more. I wonder if the rest of you feel as energized by the potential? From where I am sitting, this could be the start of what is next on so many levels.

13 thoughts on “Google Wave

  1. I’m always interested to see your perspective on developments in “edu tools” and pedagogical applications. I have to agree with your excitement. The integration with other sites (blogs) and open development are very promising.

    I’m really excited to see what Google Wave brings to the eLearning environment. I have been investigating approaches/tools for collaborative learning online. The CMS/LMS environment is very limited. Wave may be really opening the doors to a whole new arena for collaboration.

    One concern I see is the “big brother” Google fear. Some individuals I work with won’t use Google Docs because of the fear the Google is watching everything. I hope Wave is useful enough to curb some of the fears. It will be exciting to see how the development unfolds.

    It would be nice to have a brainstorming session or discussion during Summer Camp about the potential impact of Wave on education. Has PSU looking into using Google Apps Education Edition?

  2. What might drive adoption of wave is that it is in a way just like email – just with a little bit of true ultimate power thrown in. In a way I think someone who hasn’t bought into the mindspace of wiki/twitter/blog/rss/etc but does use email will be able to grok waves a bit more instinctually.

    How long until email just stops and we are all waving? It really looks like it might kill the original killer internet app.

  3. @ Brad K So i hadn’t even thought of that. In essence, the Wave client that google hosts/runs/whatever could be using our own space to move wave data back and forth? I wonder how that would work in practice? That could overcome quite a bit of the problems with how we view other hosted services. I am wondering if we shouldn’t be jumping into this pool sooner rather than later?

  4. @ Cole Camplese If I understand this correctly (and I may not), PSU would be its own wave provider, and you and I could collaborate via a wave using brandx wave client and google would have nothing to do with providing that service. It works the same way email does now.

  5. @ Brad K Now that is even more interesting than I suspected. I thought there was a push through the google system — not that that bothers me at the moment. This is making me question quite a bit of stuff, and I am sure you know what I mean by that.

  6. Thanks, Cole, for this post and for the ensuing discussion. I look forward to spending a some of my TLT fellowship time looking into the Google Wave demo and trying to think about how it could help my research and teaching in the future. What I have heard thus far, which is too little, excites me too.

    Perhaps I am not understanding this fully, but I envision a kind of central app from which I can monitor, contribute to, participate in, etc. all the facets of my digital life: my email, twitter, blogging, feeds, etc. I will also be able to co-edit things with colleagues, work on student writing, etc. This is tantalizing and potentially revolutionary, it seems to me.

    I hope Brad is right about PSU being able to host its own Wave server, although some will still have the big brother fears with PSU. I imagine that it will be important for me to be able to migrate information easily from one server to another if necessary. I want to “own” the wave content I produce in the sense that I can take it with me or have access to it anywhere.

    If you decide to ride the Wave sooner rather than later, I would love to participate in the process. It seems to me to fit very well into my TLT faculty fellowship project. In fact, it might be just the notion of a digital agora I was trying (badly) to articulate on the wiki.

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  8. I was able to sporadically watch the demo today with some colleagues and I kept saying to myself that this could be a game changer. You’re right about the feeling (and reality) of being at a transitional space with regards to LMS. We’ve been running an instance of Moodle the past two years with decent to good adoption as the campus unplugs itself from the old First Class e-mail client. Seeing the Wave demo kind of blew my mind when I think about where the very late Moodle adopters are even at. Here in Monterey we are in a deep transition with all of our systems and thinking as we move ahead to integrate with Middlebury college. Thinking in Wave-like fashion will be a great experiment for us all.

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  11. I’m glad others have the same reaction as @sherrymn and I did as we watched and discussed the video last week (blogged here: I also think it’s “paradigm bending” – at the very least, the extent to which Wave streamlines the composition process is numbing: the act of creating and contributing online appears much easier than current methods and transcends language barriers.

    Matt Crosslin and I have been discussing – at his blog and mine – how Wave fits in within the context of LMS’ – would enjoy your comments/thoughts..

    Looking through comments. The federated features of Wave are impressive. As I understood it… Google Wave has been designed to be an open protocol; anyone can build an organizational, federated Google Wave server (like an email server) – even their own user interface. Importantly – from an IT, organizational security/privacy perspective – the protocol supports inter-system communication while maintaining organizational privacy; only the servers involved in each instance of communication maintain a record of the communication; this is granular down within Waves. For example, if a Wave includes four people working across three organizations and two participants that work for Organization B exchange a private message within that Wave, the private message is not shared to all three server within the Wave; it never leaves Organiation B’s Wave server.

    I’ll be blogging more about specific educational uses.
    But, I definitely look forward to when this post could be an embedded Wave with all of our comments being inserted within and throughout the conversation. And, if you happen to have your Wave interface open at this exact moment – you’d see me commenting… character by character. It will be very cool.


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