Google Wave has been a trending topic on Twitter for a while, and still intrigues the unlucky few who haven't been invited to the private preview of the service yet. However, most people who have access still struggle to find a proper use for the service.
The trouble with Google Wave is no one even knows how to briefly describe it, let alone use it. Even Google struggles with how to convey just what Google is, and they still refer curious people to their 80 minute video on YouTube. I'll do my best to describe it: Google Wave is a mashup of email and instant messaging plus document sharing and editing, where everyone can either chat in real-time, edit a single document simultaneously, or add more information and media to a message or "wave" at the same time. Phew. And yet it's still difficult to understand, isn't it?
I guess the best way to make sense of Google Wave is to use it yourself.
Wait, you don't have an invite? Oh. Never mind.
Well, if you do have an invite and you're still struggling to find out how this new platform can be used, I recommend checking this out (the link only works if you have access to Google Wave). The Seattle Times has started a wave to track an ongoing manhunt in the Seattle area. The wave is public, meaning anyone in the Google Wave preview can read or add to the wave. So far, the number of participants is over 400, and people continue to update the wave with new information about the chase for the suspect.
It's an interesting experiment in social media and journalism. And Google Wave, by virtue of its features that allow the same document to be shared and altered by so many users at the same time, has a distinct advantage over other popular tools for information gathering and sharing, such as Twitter hashtags. If this particular usage of Google Wave continues, its growth as a platform will certainly be worth following.
For more on Google Wave's potential uses with journalism, read this article by the Sun-Time's Andy Ihnatko.