There has been a lot of talk across the internet about Google's latest web application they released known as Google Wave. With Google Wave being touted as being "social networking personalized," I got interested in it and searched for an invite. Upon receiving my invite, however, I noticed that nobody I knew had Google Wave. This put quite a damper on what I could do with it and my ability to adequately put it through its paces.
Google Wave is best described as "e-mail evolved." What I mean by this is that all communication that takes place in Wave is actually individual emails. The neat thing, though, is that while you are typing in a conversation other people can read what you are typing, you can read what they are typing, and you can add in extra media/gadgets as needed for your "wave."
The best way to explain Google Wave is by a visual presentation. If you watch this video√ā¬†Google Wave Cinema: Good Will Hunting (click here) you will get a decent idea of how a Wave flows. Please be aware that this video does have some adult language so viewers be advised. You see the user create a new wave, then adds Will Hunting and uses various methods to communicate the story to Will Hunting.
As is, Google Wave is a great tool for collaboration between multiple people on a project. For instance, say with our company we started a new website to sell stuffed frogs. We could have a wave going between the people involved to gather ideas on what we should do. Then, when we hire a developer to create the site, they can be added to the wave. Once the developer is on the wave, they have the ability to play back the entire wave to get the "flow." The developer, up to date with all collaboration thus far, is fully informed and integrated in the project's process, and we're ready to get the ball rolling.
As a replacement for social networking, however, I think that Google is reaching a little bit. There's no real method to find new people within Wave unless you already know someone, it's limited to gmail.com-only addresses, and as waves grow it becomes hard to follow what is going on. It's a very neat idea but in practice it's lacking. The interface is extremely slow and the real-time updating isn't as nice as the YouTube video I linked leads you to believe. This is probably why it is still in beta and has limited invites available.