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Pinging and private messages in Google Wave

October 26th, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

When Google first introduced Google Waves to the world it was claimed that the design had been to start from scratch and imagine what it would be like to reinvent email. This strategy is no doubt the reason that the gwave screen looks rather like an early prototype of Google Mail with its areas for contacts, and inbox and a viewing panel. So far at least it is difficult to see how gwave could be used as an email client, even if it were to be made available to all comers, in its current state of development. It needs for better functions for organising wave and for controlling access for a start.  I have been using waves so far mainly for collaboration and discussion and I must say it looks pretty promising. At the moment I am limited to working with other gwave account holders and these tend to be in the developer and edtech community. I am finding this to be extremely interesting and useful, even fun at times! But the acid test will be when academic colleagues and students can have accounts and we can put together projects and activities focused on everyday learning and teaching needs and scenarios.

The closest I have come to email like activity in gwave is pinging gwave contacts. All your personal gwave contacts are listed in the Contact panel. When a wave is open in the viewing panel of full screen, all the wave members’ icons are displayed in the wave’s header bar. If you click on a wave member’s icon in a wave header or if you click on a contact’s icon in your contact panel, a box will open giving you some details of the person and some options. If you have clicked a contact icon in the contacts panel the options are:

New wave
Ping [contact’s name]
Recent waves

Clicking on ‘New wave’ starts a new private wave in which you and your contact are the only members. This appears in both your and your contact’s in box. As far as I can see, clicking on ‘Ping..’  does exactly the same thing with the possible exception that the new wave opens for you and your contact (if they are on-line) in a pop-up window. Either way it still ends up in both inboxes. So this is a one-to-one private message appearing in both individuals’ inboxes. However, it is a wave so discussion can take place within the message and other contacts added to it (by either of you at the moment!). Clicking on ‘Recent waves’ lists any waves that the contact has been active in recently that your are also a member of so it is essentially a filter of your inbox. I have no idea the time scale of ‘recently’ but it fails to list some waves I would expect to see.

If you click on a wave member’s icon in the header of an open wave you get a slightly different set of options:

New wave
Ping [member’s name]
Remove [member’s name] – this is greyed out and doesn’t work at the moment

If the wave member is not one of your contacts you are also offered an option to ‘Add to contacts’ which will add the individual to your contacts panel. This makes them available to be added to your waves(or any other waves  you are a member of) if you wish. You can only add contacts to waves.

If you choose the ‘New wave’ option it works as described above – a new private wave is created and appears in your and the wave member’s inboxes. However, if you choose the Ping option a new private wave appears embedded in the wave at your insertion position. It is a ‘child’ private wave embedded in ‘parent wave but only visible to  you and the person you pinged. But like any other wave, you (and the person you pinged to create it) can add other members from your contacts panel. This ‘child’ wave is not listed separately in your and your contact’s  inboxes.

Now I know what you are wondering! What happens if you add a contact to a child private wave that is not a member of the containing parent wave? The answer is that it appears in their inbox just like any other wave. It will open just like any other wave and they can use it just like any other wave. For them it is just another wave in their inbox. However, if you subsequently add them to the parent wave, this will appear in their inbox in the place of the child wave and their access to the child wave will be as an item in the main parent wave.

How all this will work in the final release version of Google wave remains to be seen, but the ability to embedded waves with restricted visibility and access could be useful.


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