Catch the Wave (or not)


I’ve been playing around with google wave a lot lately. If you don’t know what it’s all about, then check out this video:

Now for my reactions:

1. My initial impression wasn’t favorable at all, because I didn’t understand the full capability of wave. I kept tweeting and complaining that without anyone to “wave” with, the thing was boring and useless. I had egg on my face once I realized that users can easily search for and find public waves. Unfortunately, this leads to the problem of Wave becoming overwhelming because there is so much activity out there. I went from being underwhelmed to being completely overwhelmed. Reality probably lies somewhere between the two. There’s almost always a stage of confusion and bewilderment when I’m playing with new technology, especially technology that involves collaboration and multiple users. It’s like stumbling upon a whole other world that you didn’t even realize existed, because other people are so much further along in their abilities and understanding of the medium. The only solution is immersion.

2. That led me to really start playing around with Wave. I see glimpses of how cool it could be. Right now, though, it really feels like a hybrid between a message board, twitter, and a chatroom. There’s lots of talk going on out there. Lots of discussion. The only thing is: I’ve got plenty of existing forums that do a fine job of filling my need to connect and discuss. I don’t really need one more in the form of Google Wave.

3. The user interface is too idiosynchratic and learning curve too steep. When you have to type in commands like “with:public” in order to get waves that are flagged public, you’re moving beyond your average user. That being said, I know from waves I’ve read that the developers aren’t that concerned with creating buttons and GUI for everything at this point. They’re targeting advanced users before rolling out for mass consumption. At this point, though, if you’re not comfortable with text commands, you might get confused in wave and not be ready for it. I have every faith this issue will be solved before widespread rollout.

4. Not sure that it will revolutionize email, but it’s possible. This is probably the area of wave I’ve explored the least. I don’t know that many people who are using Wave. The main problem with it “revolutionizing” email is that it’s going to require that everyone involved in the email is also using Wave. One of the beauties of Wave is that you can eliminate the confusion and clutter of trying to retroactively include a person on a string of emails (very often resulting in crossed wires, missed emails, and general confusion throughout the remainder of the project). Wave eliminates the problem because you can just add someone to the wave, and they can get caught up be reviewing the wave’s timeline. Great, as long as everyone on the project is using wave. That’s best case scenario. Worst case scenario: some team members choose not to use wave. Now, you’ve basically split the team into two groups: wave users and non-wave users. Wave content will have to be transcribed over to email content for those not using Wave. Double the confusion. Double the trouble.

5. I do think that it will be effective for targeted uses, such as students or a classroom collaborating on specific projects. I see it more like a wiki than anything else. If a school, company, team leader dictates and demands that Wave be used for a project, then I can see it being spectacular.

Overall, I don’t see widespread embrace of Wave. I hate to say it, because I was a complete believer and bought into the hype. I like it, and I”ll continue to play around with it. I hope that there will be developments I haven’t seen which will lead to its success. After all, Google owns me.

If you’re a Wave user, feel free to hit me up at


2 thoughts on “Catch the Wave (or not)

  1. I like the write-up, Boyd. I plan to give Google Wave a try myself once I get an invite. I don’t think it’s quite the revolution in communication that they marketed, but it does combine several nice elements together.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Christopher. I’m probably overly harsh on Wave, considering I’m still spending quite a bit of my free time on it. I’ll definitely revisit the issue again in a month or so.

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