The process of collaborating

letterOften when you hear about how old scientist collaborated they used letters. Like Niels Bohr who drafted some of his ideas in letters to Heisenberg. Many of these letters are stored as a part of the great thinker’s collaborative process and a history of how our knowledge expanded.

I would guess that people spend a long time on writing the letters to each other’s and then hoped to get a reply back some weeks later (I’m not sure on how fast the post system was at that time). They probably also spend more time on writing what they meant, in a communicative fashion, because you just could not ask for a change. If I wite a mail and someone, does not understand my writing they can send comments back fast, and I can then clarify the parts which is difficult to understand.

The price for sending a letter across Europe must have been high compared with todays prices, since there was so much manual labor. That meant you probably had to use more time on creating the letters and treasured the result much more. I would also guess that paper and ink was more expensive than we think today.

Going from this letter collaboration to a much faster email has changed the way we feel about letters. I got a book with some letters/emails that I have written in 1996 when I was an exchange student. But other than that I don’t think I have any of my old emails, because they are not relevant anymore. If I had done some collaborative work, it would have been changed into a document.

With Google Wave this movement is speed is even greater. One of the popular activities is to blog, like this. With Wave blogging becomes an even faster, since you can collaborate with your readers like offlineblog writes. Currently working on scientific papers is a highly collaborative process, according to Wikinomics, the average paper had 100+ authors (I cannot find the detail now). Working on scientific papers might become more collaborative with Waves. In scientific papers it is very important to create the right formulation, and there the collaborations work easily. Business documents like scientific papers can also be a collaborative process, hire does it help to have

Then think that you get an instant reply on you idea generation. It just speeds up the process from many months to a single day. Okay breakthrough discoveries probably cannot be discovered in just one day.

You will of cause be able to go back and revisit all your waves, since they will all be stored on the server. The question is then if you are able to find all your nuggets between all in your daily conversations. The question is also if the Wave will be compatible with future use wave servers or the Wave protocol will be replaced by something else in 20 years time.

Image by jude_bird_86.

New design principles; it should be wave-y

Today Google posted the new design principles for developing applications to Wave. This list of principles is to raise the bar for developing applications on to Wave. It requires the developers to think usability in to extensions. The concept is really nice; think about you wave development and create better applications.

The concept wave-y is introduced to help developer on focus tools, which are target collaborative intuitive and real-time components. Developing applications to support these properties can prove to be difficult, because it is a new paradigm for development.

One of the areas the guide touches is about writing commands to robots. The robots should be able to detect when they are needed. This defiantly provide a problem to create robots which listen after the data and works with them. An enterprise robot, which does this, is the robot DJ Adams has created. It listens for indications on a transport name using regular expression. If it finds a match it reacts. But with the right text tools it will be possible to extract some information about the current customer, which is used.

This text analysis will probably requires some better functions for semantic web.

According to the document it should be possible to subscribe to events depending on what is written in the wave. So if the user writes “address” the address robot is added to the wave to process the address.

The extensions (gadgets or robots) should be very intuitive. It should be possible for first time users to use them, without pulling out an instruction manual or now a wiki. It might be difficult to make an easy to use enterprise modeling tool like Aris (if it was a gadget) from IDS sheers, which can be used without a manual or a course.

The document also promotes the use of extension install. I have not used it for any of my robots, but it could prove to be an interesting task to do. It will be much easier to use the robot if it was just a one click in the menu.

The best thing about the document is that extensions have to be fun or be useful.

Wave hackathon in Copenhagen

Today a wave hackathon was held in Copenhagen. Tommy Pedersen from Miraclegeekhouse started with the ide and got everything organized. National IT and Telecom Agency (IT- og Telestyrelsen) hosted the event in their nice meeting rooms.

The group ready to start Waving

The day started with an introduction with Tommy, about Google Wave and how to build robots. So everyone got up to speed on what wave was.

Joakim showing how to make gadgets

Then Joakim Recht from Trifork gave an introduction to the gadget api and how to use the shared state in gadgets. It was a good introduction, which made me wanting to code a gadget.

We had a brainstorm before the meeting in a wave. See the embedded wave for more information (sorry none wavers, I felt like this was the time to use the embed plugin).

We had some hectic hours programming on wave in small groups on the subject of our choise.

For the presentation we had some problems namely that the link between the Wavesandbox and Appengine was very slow. We had therefore response time of up to 5 minutes, before robots could interact. The robot demos were therefore pretty lame.

Bjarke Walling and Allan Ebdrup had made a gadget to make freehand drawings in. It was possible to collaborate on drawing in the wave, and both participants could see the drawing. He had some problems with the mouse down and up events, which was a little slow. Also the drawing created a lot of events, so the playback was long.

Bjarke presenting his drawing gadget

I was together with Bo Stendal Sørensen and worked on a robot to record each participant’s contribution to the wave. It mostly ended out in a research project for how to annotations works. It was a pain, but I hope to be able to create a write up about it soon. It might solve some hair lose.

It was a great day, and we all learned a lot from the event. Big applause to the team around the event.

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