I'm getting my first chance to test Google Wave this week, thanks to Barry Bailey's invite. Barry, I owe you one super huge favor, any time, so don't hesitate to ask. :)
I'm pretty swamped this week, but I'll take some times to really kick the tires this weekend. I just began a playback on a LITA wave discussing the possible uses of wave for libraries. [BTW, this next bit is a copy of something I just posted to the LITA Google Wave Group, for those not yet lucky enough to be in on the wave.] A great deal of the conversation on the wave (not just on the LITA wave, out in the blogosphere in general) seems to be focused on comparing wave to synchronous communication tools like IM and social networking sites. But my hope for wave is that, although it might be leveraged for that, the real power stems from the ability to foster richer a asynchronous communication, where discussion about a topic in a wave can be easily crafted- using branches of the wave, and special markup which I've only seen on the demo, but will try soon- to produce publically viewable living document derivatives of a wave automatically. Think about all those long, all-too-frequent meetings we all attend where we spend hours discussing a new policy (or policy change) and then task someone, at the end of the multiple meetings and discussions, to take all the discussion and craft a policy from it. At yet another meeting, the proposed policy is reviewed, amendments are suggested, more work is done, etc. Finally, usually weeks after the major decisions have been made, the policy gets posted somewhere. Now, think about an online, asynchronous approach to the same policy making conversation. The discussion, and the exact language from that discussion, could be automatically updating a publically viewable branch of the wave (posted to a public blog, wiki, web site or other document management system/space). Add to that that the feedback that's received on the public wave branch (like on a blog or wiki comment) feeds back into into the wave discussion (automatically), where the policy makers can immediately discuss the comment, come to consensus, and almost immediately amend the policy/document. I see Google Wave as a way to make all my group work get addressed more quickly and responsively, while also reducing the amount of time it takes to produce public information from what are now (mostly) private, largely undocumented conversations.
I jumped out to search for how to link to a Google Wave (so those of you with wave accounts can join in on some of the waves I plan to start soon) and found a good article by Daniel Tenner, "What problems does Google Wave solve- A matter of perspective" that echoes my own feelings about wave- that people don't quite know what they should use it for yet.