Touch technology is one means of achieving multiple-user single-tasking on one workstation. Branching from that idea, wouldn’t it would be nice if cloud applications (software that runs as an online service, like GoogleDocs) would allow multiple users to make edits simultaneously?

If cloud applications don’t allow collaboration in real-time, then their only benefit is eliminating the need to pass around a file or physical document. A team might as well have met in face-to-face and gone through each edit in succession. Real collaboration tools allow for a dynamic group conversation.

I watched the Google Wave keynote speech at Google I/O 2009 and wow, it’s like this intense social media cloud mashup of instant messenger, email, wikipedia, and widget-y goodness…PLUS A TIME MACHINE!

From GoogleBlog, these are the questions that led to the development of Google Wave, this ingenious new tool for live online communications & collaboration:

  1. Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication — email versus chat, or conversations versus documents?
  2. Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the web today, in one smooth continuum? How simple could we make it?
  3. What if we tried designing a communications system that took advantage of computers’ current abilities, rather than imitating non-electronic forms?

Here’s how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use “playback” to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

Best part? LIVE TRANSMISSION. As in, it’s possible to follow individual characters as other users type in REAL-TIME! Also, AUTOMATED LANGUAGE TRANSLATION and a spelling & grammar check that adjusts for surrounding content! Sounds handy.