Recently we mentioned ‘Google Wave’ in the post “Google Wave: Next generation communication & collaboration tool” which is expected to be released later this year. Even though it is not designed for the specific needs of science, some researchers are testing how it might serve their work purposes. Biochemist Cameron Neylon from the University of Southampton, UK, was among the few who could access Google Wave prior to its release. In a recent interview with Nature, Neylon makes clear that Google Wave is still a complicated application. Nonetheless, according to him there are some plausible benefits that could help transform the way researchers communicate, document their results and collaborate on manuscript preparation.
As a summary, Google Wave could be “used for collaborative authoring, to speed up writing papers and grant applications”. It’s also possible to “create automatic programs that buzz around the document, annotating it in ways that are hidden from the human reader. The automated programs, or ‘robots’, make it possible to link to related scientific documents; mark up text so that, for example, protein names are automatically linked to a protein database”. Researchers can “pull in data from elsewhere and create live graphs that update as the data change”. As a result, scientific manuscripts would no longer be “static”, but could be “converted to the format of a published paper, updated over time and retain all that annotation”.
In addition, Neylon mentions “scientists could share their experimental processes in a way that’s hard to do at the moment. For example, as data come off a laboratory instrument via a computer, a program could insert them straight into the document” and “another program could visualize those data”. Researchers could “control, monitor and observe an experiment” and “share that wave with someone else as a template for their experiment”.