Waves Down Under-er

Monday, July 12, 2010 | 9:04 PM

Just before the December holidays, a few Google Wave team members were playing foosball and decided we needed to do something fun together. Since Australia is a bit warm that time of year, we figured why not go to Antarctica? Time was short, so we had to get our plan together quickly. From using Wave at work, we had found that it is great for coordinating with small groups of people, so naturally, we decided to use it to plan our trip. We needed to find a cruise, decide on a date, figure out who wanted to go, work out cabin arrangements, get some flights, equipment, camera gear, and try not to get seasick. All in just in three weeks!

First, we had to decide which cruise to take, so we started a planning wave. Greg began by itemising upcoming cruises from a couple of potential operators, listing out dates, routes, and activities. Many of us were keen to kayak in the icy Antarctic waters, so we eventually settled on an eleven-day cruise with a provider from Canada.

Next, we managed the tricky task of choosing sleeping arrangements with a poll gadget in our planning wave. Each person indicated their cabin type preferences, and luckily, a single arrangement fell out of those choices. You can see our votes in the wave (try 'Playback' to see how the discussion evolved).

Then we began the ever-popular tasks of booking flights and accomodation and sorting out what to bring. We decided to divide up the responsibility: Narelle and Alex researched flights, Pat called Argentinian hotels, and Jan looked into the administrivia of visas, immunisations, and equipment (cameras!). Greg ... supervised.

Whenever someone found new information, he or she summarised it in our wave and we discussed the options right there, as a group. Within a day or two our arrangements were complete, and earlier discussions in the wave were replaced with final information such as flight numbers, booking numbers and costs.

A great advantage of planning everything in Google Wave is that the wave always presents a definitive view of the latest information and decisions. It didn't matter if some people missed parts of the discussion, because they could use playback to easily catch up with the decisions or see how the discussion evolved. Once a decision was made, we deleted the discussion and replaced it with the final plan. This meant the wave only displayed the most up-to-date, important information.

If we hadn't used Google Wave, we might have been able to pull the trip together in time, but we're not sure we would have still liked eachother enough to actually enjoy our time trapped on a boat together. Wave helped us pull all our information together into one place, make decisions quickly, and have a record of those decisions for when someone changed their mind. So the next time you want to get out and explore the world with a few friends, (or even colleagues!), give Wave a try.

You can check out some of our photos from the trip. Oh, and we figured as long we were standing on the southernmost continent, we should film Dr. Wave in his unnatural habitat. In fact this was an excuse to put him on the edge of a cliff and throw snowballs at him. Enjoy!

And here's a re-enactment of the wave we used to plan the trip: