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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Save the Wave: Creative Ways to Use GoogleWave


I read a blog post a while back, which referred to news of the anticipated demise of Google Wave.
The comments about wave were less than favorable.
To sum up , it was basically “See you buddy, won’t be missing you”.
This probably captures the sentiments of all those people who tried and eschewed the wave, as just another tedious thing to learn. After all email is still the communication medium of choice of office workers everywhere. Anything you find, send it off in an email to everybody else.

I guess it would take something fabulous and out of the ordinary (and VERY easy to use), to   displace email. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE email and am on it all day, checking every new item that reaches my inbox. I could not imagine life without email after all.
(On another note, the generation born after the Millennials think that email is way too slow. But that is another blog...).
However, who has time to read all the dozens of references sent so kindly to us by co-workers in the spirit of sharing all the good stuff they find online, when time is at a premium and deadlines are to be met. It’s interesting to read “Look what I found about the feedback on the Galaxy Tab, or sales of the Ipad, or about “The Apprentice”, or even a very relevant link to a topic that’s related to a work project on your schedule. But you don’t need all those article links in your inbox. It just creates a mountain of data  to wade through.
Worse yet, when you’re ready to settle down to work on that project, you may not remember that little link that you or some kind co-worker found, way back in April. You could do an email search, but it brings up a host of irrelevant ones.
Now this is where I have been using the Wave to great advantage, and I’ve been asked before, why Wave, when there’s Google Docs.
My answer to that is that Wave is so much more.
I think Google Docs is a great tool for working on a document in collaboration with other people. Several persons can work on the same doc at the same time, editing and adding, thereby shortening time spent back and forth between contributors. You can add links and pictures as well.
However I see Google wave as being open to several other uses (and being more user friendly for those uses).

To create new ideas and designs
It is a wonderful tool for a project/team/business manager, or anyone who holds a lead role. I see it as a repository for all kinds of wonderful stuff that could seed the next great idea or service or product for a business.
Let’s say we are thinking of what’s on the agenda for next year’s customer or client offerings and need to brainstorm the ‘what can we create’ process.
Well the wave is a super e-bank for storing all bits and pieces of information that we find interesting and possibly predictive of future trends. Any item, in any electronic medium could be a diamond in the rough that if you look closely and think about long enough, may spark a new idea. You can open a new wave for every new topic or subject matter you want to develop. It then becomes a convenient drop-box where anyone you’ve  added to the wave, can leave anything they find related to that topic. So let’s say our company is in the business of designing baby products. You can open a wave for the next new baby design. Now anyone in your company who is not even on the design team, can contribute their ideas. Every person who is a parent, or takes care of babies, may have some views they want to express. E.g., They want a particular kind of bag with so many pockets, compartments etc , to hold certain baby items when taking baby out. Some people might have come across pictures of bags/receptacles that are native to some far flung community for instance, which might be a worth looking at as a model. These pics may be thrown in as well. Someone could have come across an article dealing with issues moms face that could shed some light on their needs from a  design or health standpoint. A link to the latest amendments to regulatory standards. An interview that discusses fashion trends for next year. A video from any source that shows parents toting babies around in the mall, the streets, the park, the beach etc. A news documentary, a book, a magazine. In short a cornucopia of raw data from different electronic media, plus staff just posting up their thoughts in a conversational format. Perhaps links to blogs, tweets, facebook pages etc etc.
The thing to note here is that each piece of information or link in the wave may not be of much use by itself. However, when you look at all this stuff from a larger, global type perspective, you may see an idea emerging. Something begins to take shape and assume a form, and this could  be the genesis for the next new product you design. The stuff in the wave are simply the touch stones which may set off the lightbulb in your head. I see it as a great medium for collaboration to take place in, among people from different kinds of disciplines, who come at the same issue from different perspectives.For example people with scientific, artistic, business economic or marketing backgrounds, giving their take on the same issue, but informed by their particular type of training and experience.

So those were detailed examples of kinds of data that can be thrown into the wave.
Here are some other ways that the wave can be used:

For project leaders to see what data team members have come up with so far on a creative project.
Project design and management software the wave is not. But instead of sending emails to update or share information with the team, the wave is one central location where the leader or members can see all the information that’s available on the project so far. Links can be pasted to documents, charts, memos, and other works related to a project.This use may be of interest to the smaller businesses who don’t have funds to purchase expensive software.

To collect relevant information and data, to write that next article, assignment, or book
I am constantly collecting information from all kinds of web sources to  inspire me to write something new, whether it’s for my blog, or a work related article.
Some of the material I collect is my research for writing, or simply to educate myself about a subject I am interested in.
There are many very good add-ons and extensions which work with my browser (Firefox), which have become indispensable to help organise my work. I mentioned several of them in my last posting about the old ways and good days (zotero, pearltrees, read later, delicious etc).
These add-ons are excellent for helping me capture links or screen shots of webpages which contain information I want to store for later. Sometimes I don’t have time to read it, so one click on my ‘Read Later’ button ensures I can find all of them together when I want to sit down for a good read.
However when I am ready to put together a piece for a presentation, blog, article, paper etc, it helps to pull only the relevant web pages together in a wave, for there’s a mass of interesting info that I’ve collected in these other bookmarking tools.
Usually though, when I am not generally browsing, but searching for specific topic-relevant info, I put them straight into the wave. This way I only have highly relevant data that I know I want to use to construct the piece.

I was very disappointed to hear the news of the Wave’s possible/probable/certain? demise.
Now what will I use that is free, to do all the stuff I described above?

I am open to any and all suggestions.


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