GoogleWave: Event Collaboration and Skype Demo

Last week, Amsterdam hosted the eComm – Emerging Communications Conference and Awards, a twice-a-year global event launched in 2008. This “community focused” event focuses on convergence: telecom, cellular and Internet-based communication.

And even though GoogleWave is barely out of alpha, organizers put the architecture in place for collaborative notetaking for every session of the three-day event. Their experience foreshadows how GoogleWave could function as an incredibly disruptive super-application.

So what happened?

People shared. The gift economy at work.

Perhaps this isn’t surprising, given the nature of this community-focused event or because GoogleWave is so new and shiny (also clunky). But I have attended (and helped manage) community-focused events, and my experience is that it’s hard to get community note-taking, even on easy-to-use wikis with geeks in the house. Twitter stream? Sure. Individual blog posts? Of course. But one central place for notes? Nada. Can’t even get all speakers to upload notes and slides to Slideshare.

Did folks share “alike”? Nope, some sessions have more notetakers than others. Some summaries are more “discussion” than “notes.” [See the screen captures in the Slideshare embed below.]

But. This is very early in the GoogleWave game. And while the interface is a little clunky, it’s also very memorable/learnable.

Skype In Wave
Nevertheless, one of the biggest ah-ha’s from this conference came from a blog post and Blip.tv video. The blog post was linked in session notes; I found it on Wave. (Heck, I found this conference on Wave; I’d not heard of it before.)

In this demo, we see a Skype call (ID not telephone number) launched from within a Wave (no stand-alone Skype client). As the two men chat, something is automagically recording the conversation as snippets, each associated with the speaker. In other words, it is doing for conversations what the LiveScribe (Pulse) pen does for meetings: it makes it easy to find a specific place in an audio record of a conversation.

As Phil Wolf at Skype Journal notes:

[It] deconstructs a long talk into directly referenceable snippets… This means you can annotate live calls with transcripts, pictures, etc. So the call’s Binary Large Object becomes binary tiny objects.

Third, because the snippets are referred to by a wave, other gadgets and bots can enhance the archive. Add or remove background noise. Translate and provide voiceovers in your language. Highlight statistically improbable phrases. Detect stress in a voice. Visualize the data in a timeline or a relationship scorecard (who talked more?). Add tags to help you find this wave again.

Of course, I immediately started thinking about recording “telephone” conversations, making the private public. How recording is illegal in the U.S. without explicit permission. How, once again, technology outpaces legal institutions. Here is another nail in the “off the record” coffin and yet another place for “private” conversation to be released into the wild, intentionally or accidentally.

Maybe Wave is going to be more disruptive than I’ve thought on first blush, particularly in the realm of perceived privacy.

Orwell was wrong. The tools of Big Brother are in each of our hands (our cellphones). Big Brother really is us, and GoogleWave might be the platform.

See how eComm participants used GoogleWave:

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