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Collaboration leveraged by information technology

I posted a tribute to Google Wave to one of the email lists I'm honored to have mine registered. I'm glad that I did, though my writing is rather a fragment of thoughts than a concise article, because Claude Baudoin, senior consultant at Cutter Consortium, shared his excellent article titled "Google Wave and the Future of Collaboration" in response. The article, published in February of 2010, does not seem to be available to the general public, so I just quote the summary that is available on Cutter Consortium web site:

Google Wave and the Future of Collaboration by Claude R. Baudoin

Computer-mediated collaboration has evolved considerably, yet the main tool we still use is e-mail, which started spreading more than 30 years ago when our needs were much simpler. Google's recent preview of its Google Wave has set the IT world abuzz, because we suddenly glimpsed a more logical (some said brilliant) way to escape the limitations of e-mail. Is Google Wave a fundamental advance, or just another toy? What does it tell us about the future of collaboration? Is it just a fad, or will it send e-mail into the dustbin of IT history? In this Executive Update, we will examine Google Wave and how collaboration may ultimately evolve.

I thank Claude for sharing his excellent article.

Claude's article was to the point and concise, and probably had predicted the fate of Wave.

I remain with my view that Wave may not have been an end user product, but more like a university project that shed us a light of inspiration to how the future online collaboration would be. Some of the features are adopted to the existing product just as we saw this announcement from Google:

Here are some of the most interesting features of the new version of Google documents:
  • Real time collaboration: See updates from other collaborators as they edit the document.
  • Higher-quality imports: More consistent imports from your desktop into Google Docs.
  • Chat with other collaborators: As you make your edits, you can chat with other document editors about the changes, from within the document.
  • Ruler: Google documents have a ruler for setting margins, indentations, and tab stops.
In the company I work as a software engineer, many projects use Twiki and Microsoft's Teamspace. One of the most frustrating about those product to me is that I need to delete older version of the document and upload the new every time I edit the document in review. People download the version uploaded at the point, and do not have any idea if the document is up-to-date. While type-to-date (this word may be my invention - shared documents updated immediately with every key-stroke of one of the editors) may be extreme and impractical, the concurrent versioning system with automatic update is something I think that we should have.

Information technology challenges the space and time constraints, and our distributed projects are the outcome. To add one more point to Claude's thoughts on the collaboration leveraged by information technology, I think our office spaces are so behind in having facilities to enable idea creation activities between multiple sites. The collaboration tools should expand beyond the small computer screen and to the entire wall, face tracking and projection to the other side of the wall via the network, gesture based interactions, and the artifacts are all recorded into concurrent document system. This is not a replacement to face-to-face communications, but it could help to reduce the piles of emails, and reduce the frustration when we cannot beam ourselves elsewhere or fly from Houston to Oslo every week (*).

* Hint: My company is an oil field service company.

By the way, I drew the illustration on iPad using iDraft app and this magical stylus pen:

Original post: Aug. 14, 2010 | Last updated: Aug. 14, 2010

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