Tuesday, 4 August 2009

How Google Wave could become the multimedia publishing platform of choice

Next month Google Wave goes live to those who’ve signed up to test it out. Why should journalists care? Specifically, B2B journalists?

Because wave just might be the platform that enables us to do easily  what we aspire to in multimedia journalism: to work collaboratively, bring all media together in one place, and enter into a full conversation with our readers – who in B2B are often a pool of experts.

So what is wave? Well, that’s harder to explain that to demonstrate, so you might want to watch Google’s own video demo.

Or there’s Wikipedia’s definition which reads in part: “It is a web based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wiki, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus.”

As Google themselves put it: "A wave is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more."

You can check out all it can do at Mashable or Techcrunch

My interest was sparked by a series of questions from Paul Conley He believes wave could be “the thing that may push the entire business world into a more collaborative, more conversational mode -- creating the situation where all industries can report on themselves".

The vital questions he asks are: “Can a news story be a wave? Can trade show coverage be a wave? Can a recurring feature or major issue in the industries we write about be a wave? What does that look like? Who participates?"

We can’t know the answers yet – although I’d hazard a yes in answer to the first three -- but come September 30 we can begin to experiment.

Here’s my take on the most interesting aspects of wave as it relates to journalism.

A wave as an editorial brainstorming, conferencing and editing tool

You can use waves to collaboratively author documents. So instead of, say, sending notes from a meeting out either in an email or putting them into a wiki for collaboration, you can do both at the same time.  

Wave offers a mix of collaborative editing and online discussion – you just add the people who you want to collaborate with on a wave. Everyone on the wave can make changes, those changes will be trackable back to them, and the original author can accept or reject what they like. Once they are happy, they can publish it. 

So an editorial team could privately discuss coverage, assign reporting tasks and pull that material, once created, together for editing.   

Once edited and approved, the material could be put into a new wave – a public wave -- that can be distributed to a much wider group of wave participants.

Reporting collaboratively in a wave, using all media 

Say you are covering a major story, or a conference, trade show or convention. A public wave – or one with a limited invited audience, as is appropriate – can be your platform. 

And it’s multimedia. 

Attachments can be dragged and dropped into the wave – pictures for example. All members of the wave conversation can throw their photos in and they become part of one collective slide show.

A Wave is a hub of conversations that is constant and can be returned to by any number of people and updated by them all, and read by them all, at any time. It's like a mix of instant messenger and email; any wave participant can highlight an element of a message and respond directly to that bit.

So on a major breaking news story, the output from a range of reporters, plus citizen journalists and participants, can be pulled into the one wave.  

At a major event, any number and range of participants can pool their knowledge, expertise, comment and reporting in a single wave that can be the hub of coverage for that event.

A wave as a universal, multimedia publishing platform
You can embed waves in your web pages, into a blog, on discussion group sites, community forums, and you can let users discuss the content using waves that they create. 

Any individual web user can aggregate the wave conversations they are interested in and keep tabs on them all easily. They can bring them into the wave client so they don’t have to go hunting for them all over the place.

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