A few things that have popped up recently that have me excited to explore further:
KeyHubs for Mapping Informal Networks
Via a Delicious save from Beth Kanter, I found this article on mapping networks--an interesting read in itself. It led me to Keyhubs, which lets you map the informal networks that lie behind your formal org chart. The case studies show some interesting examples. It appears to evaluate networks based on who people trust, who they go to for advice and who they socialize with.
I could see using this as a tool to help plan for social networks within your organization--finding out ahead of time, for example, who your key influencers might be so that you might work with them ahead of time to support the learning community. You could also use it to analyze your existing networks, see where there might be gaps in sharing and connection, then plan for and evaluate the success of some interventions to grow the network.
The features don’t stop there, either. Google Wave also supports the ability to drag attachments from your desktop into Google Wave. It loads that file and sends it immediately to anyone in the conversation. It’s also embeddable, so you can embed Google Wave conversations on any blog.
The key to it all is the faster line of communication. Attaching documents, like you do in email, is unnecessary in Google Wave. Real-time conversations and collaboration make it an ideal tool for business teams as well. Imagine an entire office having Google Wave open to quickly share and receive files. It combines some of people’s favorite aspects of many different web communication tools.
It looks to me like this could be a really RICH way to develop a collaborative learning environment that combines the best parts of synchronous and asynchronous communication. What is also interesing is that you can record the evolution of the wave, so it looks like you'll be able to see how things develop over time. And the embedabble aspect also looks promising--I'm picturing a blog or a wiki to pull together related waves.
Of course, we're relying on descriptions at this point, but I've signed up to be notified when they go live. I'm very curious to see where this goes.
UPDATE--Looks like Mashable has posted a Complete Guide to Google Wave.