I've been using Wave for a while and I'm late in summarizing some of my thoughts. Here's a quick shot stolen from a message I wrote to a friend.
The best source of inside info on Wave is http://twitter.com/larsras who is the project manager and one of the original creators. He tweets pretty from time to time about what's going on.
I'll try to summarize my wave story quickly! 8-)
1. I already had strong opinions about email (and more here), that it scales horribly, that corp communication should be on a BBS-style forum and topic system and *not* email, with one copy of each message in a closed system.
2. So, from the above perspective, Wave got this perfectly right on the back end. I found that very exciting.
3. The front end is innovative, clever and fascinating.
4. The user interface is highly interactive which is at least entertaining but I worry about it's scalability and performance demands.
5. Wave lets you move smoothly and effortlessly between editing a shared document, asynchronous email-like communication, and real-time live chat, even in the same wave. Also throw in update-like blogging. I've kept an update wave, which is like a blog, going on a particular thing I'm working on for a while. Commenting, going back and making changes, inserting images, links and such, are all natural and built-in.
6. It's weird when you are typing a message, like you would email, and someone pops in and starts typing a response while you are still typing. At that point it becomes a spontaneous, real-time conversation. This is fun, entertaining, and slightly disturbing at first, but I think highly conducive to better and more immediate communication.
7. My big epiphany is that you can use public tags like a forum topic or email list. Tag a mesasge with your group name, or project or some such, in order to “post” it to that group. Creating a saved search for that tag, giving the search a name and a colored label, makes all of those waves easy to see and find. The fact that a wave can have multiple tags makes this even more useful.
8. Federation breaks my idea of a closed system, but they seem to have done it extremely well so that boundaries, privacy and security are all properly honored. This is all just starting to be tested, though.
More to come….