Google pitched its fledgling Wave communications platform as a way for businesses to turn routine email into collaborative exchanges that ramp up productivity.
Google Wave product manager Gregory D'Alesandre made his case on Wednesday at an Enterprise 2.0 Conference devoted to using Internet technologies to "liberate" workers from constraints of old-fashioned ways at firms.
"Email simulated snail mail once removed; the Wave gets back to people communicating in real time," D'Alesandre said during a presentation at the conference, which ends Thursday in San Francisco.
"Businesses understand better than anyone else that when you share a communication you are trying to get something done. This is a real-time collaborative platform."
In September Google began inviting people to test its Wave messaging platform that merges email, online chat, social networking and "wiki" style group access to Web pages or documents.
Wave testing continues to be private; with conference attendees promised invitations.
"We are still in a preview and it is still very buggy," said D'Alesandre, part of a Sydney-based based team behind the Wave project.
"There are a lot of features yet to be done."
When it unleashes the Wave, Google will let any user invite others to join the electronic conversations.
"Anyone on the Wave has the ability to add any other collaborators; eventually we will add permissions," D'Alesandre said.
"We realized that if we put those permissions in place everyone would have immediately locked down everything because that is what they are used to doing. They would have locked it down and made it like email."
With the Wave, email or instant messages blossom into shared online arenas where anyone in the exchange can edit documents, add digital content, or comment at any time.
"We use the Wave quite a bit internally at Google," D'Alesandre said.
"We found we are actually at this point where it is better to be interacting electronically than in person."
He gave the example of a dozen people in a meeting room clamoring to be heard.
"You can have 12 people interacting in a Wave at the same time without people talking over each other or stepping on each others' toes," D'Alesandre said.
SAP product manager Alexander Dreiling demonstrated mini-programs the German software colossus tailored to its needs using the Google Wave platform.
ThoughtWorks Studios product development vice president Chad Wathington provided attendees a glimpse at how that US technology firm adapted Wave to link exchanges to what employees are working on.
Open source software titan Novell leapt onto the Wave as a collaboration tool that provides security and control along with access, according to Andy Fox, vice president of engineering at the California firm.
The "lion's share" of Wave computer code will be open source, or public, according to D'Alesandre.
"We saw the announcement for Wave and we got really excited about the Wave protocol," Fox said. "It's not a walled garden."
D'Alesandre joked about a lengthy video online at wave.google.com in which an Australian colleague dubbed "Dr. Wave" stars in a one-hour 20-minute presentation explaining the new communications platform.
"What we really wanted to show today is we are trying to start an ecosystem of these real time collaborative communication technologies," D'Alesandre said in closing.
"We really believe this is a better way to communicate; where technology is going."
(c) 2009 AFP
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