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Hunting with Google Wave

We used Google Wave this past weekend during a practice for January's Mystery Hunt. It was an interesting experience, but Wave needs better group support before it's really usable for large-group collaboration. Further, wave threads with lots of discussion start becoming unwieldy: what usually ends up evolving is a collaboratively-edited document/summary/link forest on top, and lots of discussion and comments trailing off below. This forces you to keep scrolling between the "useful stuff" at top and the end of the comment thread, rapidly vanishing off below. The terrible scrollbar implementation doesn't help. This seems like a basic UI problem — and one that wikis have to some degree, too: anyone who's done any collaborative editing of a wiki knows the temptation to insert little inline comments, which spawn discussions that threaten to overwhelm the text. I suspect the solution is some sort of split view or toggle so you can keep an eye on both the discussion and the document at once — think of the little chat window integrated into a collaboratively-edited Google Spreadsheet, but with history and linking and all that wave goodness.

So, as presently constituted, the web Google Wave app is Not Quite There Yet (there are also some instability, compatibility, and slowness issues, but they seem more straightforward to solve). But the underlying Wave technology remains very exciting, and I believe it's something Sugar should build on, as I've written before.


Have you considered using Etherpad? They've open-sourced their code now, so it's possible to run a private copy, and I've got it running on a machine here.

(On a more general note, I'd be happy to help with any tech needs for the hunt, which I'm really looking forward to.)

-- cjb

I noticed you'd forked etherpad on git. Sounds like an interesting idea. Hopefully we'll have another practice hunt before the hunt proper, that would be the best place to try out technology ideas. You're on the Codex ringhunters list, aren't you?

Cool, let me know when and I'll show up with a configured etherpad in tow. Yes, just joined the list.

So, any more thoughts on how etherpad might be integrated, after days spent in the belly of the beast? It seems like spreadsheet functions are heavily used, esp sorting columns, but revision control not so much. Integrating (and logging) chat w/ the wiki is a huge boost to the team; having the feature where you can chat "WIKI foo" to put "foo" in the wiki page was a big win, because it eliminated mode switching from chat to wiki. If we could eliminate the mode switch from spreadsheet to chat, that would be a Win, too.