Google Wave and collaboration using P2

Google Wave recently entered the spotlight after releasing lots of new invites to eagerly awaiting users. I received an invite a while back and have been using Wave for some time now and I see the great potential and where it is headed. It basically is a way for realtime collaboration between people, making discussion easy to follow and a central point for all files and other information.

The greatness of Wave is the use of open standards which means that anyone can set up a Wave server. Right now, there is just the domain where your Wave user resides, but imagine when this becomes mainstream, where Waves can be sent to and from any “email” address – completely decentralized. The fundamentals can be seen today with the Jabber protocol, which uses the same type of communication and is working really well. The adoption rate of Jabber is another thing though.

The good thing with an approach like this is that it almost works like email does today, only better. Conversations are hosted by the Wave initiator and everyone sees the same information. Think of it as Email 2.0, or to put in Google’s words:

“Email, if it had been invented today.”

The benefits are that Wave is conceptually very similar to how email works today. The only real difference is that the entire conversation is hosted on the server side, and there is just one conversation – meaning that everyone sees exactly the same thing all the time. The way things currently work is that emails are sent, replied to, forwarded and bounced independently, which can make it very hard if not impossible to follow a conversation.

Since it will probably be a while before Wave will becomes mainstream, if it ever will, there are of course alternatives available right now. A very popular way of doing something similar is using WordPress with the P2 theme developed by Automattic themselves. This enables anyone to set up a sort of Wave server, but it is more focused on smaller groups, like companies or projects within them.

It almost looks like the front page of Twitter, where you have an input box at the top and messages from people under it. One thing P2 does that Twitter does not do however, is threaded conversations! It is an invaluable features and adds depth to conversations and makes the site more alive.

nb, This post was written long ago, it just got stuck in the draft folder.

Google releases Google Sync for iPhone, WM, SyncML

Google has just released a beta of their latest mobile service — Google Sync. This service makes it possible to sync your Google Calendar with your iPhone, Windows Mobile or other SyncML client, for free!

They use the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol, meaning that support is already built-in. To enable this on your phone right now, go to the Google Sync website and follow the straight-forward instructions. Be sure to backup your calendars and contacts beforehand though, since all information will be erased on your phone.

The easiest way to manage the contacts is to enable syncing them to Google using iTunes. Instructions for this are available as a part of the setup process on the site, so there is no need to worry.

The above mentioned process will enable synchronization of the default calendar only! If you want to access multiple calendars, or even imported calendars which are owned by others, you need to go to using your phone as the Google help pages suggest.

There is a problem however, this does not work with Google Apps domains. To sync multiple calendars with a Google Apps domain, first make sure that you are using the “English” language on the website. There is a link to switch if you don’t.

Second, don’t go to the page mentioned in the help section, but instead go to and choose “Sign in with your Google Apps” link. When you have signed in, there will be a sync icon presented, which will take you to your calendar sync settings. From there you can add multiple calendars, which will then automatically be synced to your phone.

One downside of using Google Contacts instead of the local Address Book is that the photos aren’t synced properly. There is however an application available for Windows with no name that syncs the photos from Facebook to your Google Contacts account. While this might not be the best option, it definitely beats not having any pictures at all.

Google Knol — The new online source for knowledge

Google just released a new web application called Knol. It is used to make it easy to share knowledge through article and in-depth guides. The service puts a strong emphasis on authorship, and every piece of information has one or more names behind it. From the announcement:

Knols are authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects.

An article may look like the following, which is a guide on how to backpack.

How to Backpack

How to Backpack

Much like Wikipedia, it is possible to make changes or at least propose them, since it is possible to modify the permissions for the written articles.

Collaboration permissions

Collaboration permissions

Support for Adsense is also built-in, which makes it possible for authors to actually make money from the content they publish on the site. If any significant amount of money will be generated by this is another question.

It is very easy to begin writing a new Knol. The interface looks like the following and features a light-weight WYSIWYG editor.

Write a new Knol

Write a new Knol

Knol might become a competitor for Wikipedia in the future, but I see it not as a competitor, more an enhancement to the online knowledge base. Since there is a real person behind each article, the contents is consistent and could be very reliable if written by a person knswledgable in the particular field.