My First Impressions of Google Wave

Techwriter10 3 Tallied Votes 827 Views Share

A few weeks ago I received a Google Wave invitation from my friend David Knopf (after publicly begging for one in my post Hoping to Surf the Google Wave). Since then, I've had a chance to use it and I've seen the good, the bad and the ever-present potential of the tool. While it does have tremendous potential, I think some of my initial concerns as outlined in my post A Curmudgeonly Look at Google Wave, have proven true.

The Good

Just the other day, I was invited to be on a panel to discuss Google Wave at the Gilbane Conference in Boston on December 3rd. Larry Hawes, the Gilbane consultant organizing the panel, invited me to participate on Twitter and moved the conversation to a Wave. There, the participants were able to get an idea of the scope of the panel discussion, the logistics and organization of the panel and we were able to exchange bios and pictures for the conference program. We did this quickly and efficiently all inside a Wave.

As John Blossom, a panel participant who is president of Shore Communications, Inc and author of the book Content Nation, pointed out, we were able to use Wave to do in a few minutes, what would have taken hours and many emails back and forth to achieve with traditional email. It certainly proved the power of Google Wave, but at the same time, it also proved its weaknesses.

The Bad

As you exchange information back and forth, people reply to blips in the Wave. (Blips are like individual emails or responses). All of the blips are active within a Wave at any given time. The problem is that each blip is its own separate "conversation" and while I might be responding to Blip 1, another respondent might be replying to Blip 2 and a third starting an entirely new blip.

As you can imagine, it can get confusing trying to keep up with this kind of flow, especially when it happens in real time. As I worried in my Curmudgeonly post, as you get more participants, it makes it all that much more difficult to keep up with the flow of the conversation.

And the live typing where you can watch as each participant types his/her response in real time only adds to the confusion. I would hope that Google would eventually enable users to turn this off. As I suspected, it can get really annoying and I don't really see much purpose to this feature.

While the technical folks have taken to this tool as the early "wave" of adopters, I still worry that it's far too complicated for the masses and that people will quickly become confused. While I agree that traditional email is clearly broken, it's not clear that Google Wave in its current state is an adequate replacement for the average user out there.

The Potential

I still believe the potential is so great, and its greatest strength could lie in its API and the third party developers who building gadgets and plug-ins for Google Wave. I also think that that the idea that you can use Wave in web sites and blogs independent of the client itself has tremendous potential. Google Wave provides a two-way communications platform, the likes of which we haven't seen to this point.

But for now, Google Wave is clearly a work in progress. Some people like John Blossom have done some very creative things with Wave, using it as a living, breathing publication with an on-going live discussions with his readers. But it's clear that people are still trying to define what it is and what it's best suited to do, and it's still very early, too early to making any definitive judgments about it.

migcosta 13 Junior Poster

Hello Ron,
thank you for sharing your opinion about google Wave :)

After reading about google Wave I stared to think that this could be an excellent communication tool for an enterprise cloud OS.
Even with "The Bad" points you pointed out, is this tool capable (in your opinion) of helping in project building, managing or deploying?
And, if so, will it take the decision making processes "to the cloud"?

Sorry for my English...

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Your English is fine, not to worry. I think it could be a project building tool. If you think about, my example was a simple instance of doing just that. We were able to coordinate and exchange information very quickly inside a Wave. I think that will be one of its strengths.

Thanks for commenting.


bondjames634 0 Newbie Poster

@migcosta: Google is making a Cloud OS. Its in Alpha testing right now, i believe. Also, Ron, what did you mean by "...what would have taken hours and many emails back and forth to achieve with traditional email. It certainly proved the power of Google Wave, but at the same time, it also proved its weaknesses." Im wondering what or how it proves the weakness. Also, i have Wave, and it is pretty interesting, but i have no contacts really. :(

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

I go on in "The Bad" section to discuss that. It was supposed to be segue, but I apparently didn't do a great job of making the transition.

The fact is that Google Wave is a cloud application, regardless of whether Google ever develops a Cloud OS or not.


axaroth 0 Newbie Poster

It seems to me that 'the bad' is very similar to mail problems but in wave you have the live feature (you see who begin a new blip and wait to answer until he finish) and you can re-play the messages to understand the timeline in a simple way (not the same with the quoting feature of emails). More: it is a new tool, so we need to change the way we do things.

GChoi 0 Newbie Poster

Thanks for sharing your experience! I have also recently received a Google Wave invitation and have started testing it.

ShadyTyrant 2 Junior Poster

Hey thanks for your overview of the current state of wave. I have been wondering about the progress of this application for some time now. Also if anyone would like to send me an invite that would be fantastic! <EMAIL SNIPPED>

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Thanks for the comment. I would if I could, but they didn't give any invitations to the second generation of users.


ShadyTyrant 2 Junior Poster

Oh bummer, I guess I will just have to wait.

mmpartee 0 Newbie Poster

I took a look at that Google Wave video at the IO introduction. I haven't gotten my invite yet (apparently on the way, or lost in email ;), but I bet the first set of tools will be things that simplify it for certain specific purposes or tasks, making it much less confusing for non-geek/tech type people. But I'm liking the concept of bringing all these different things together.

the only thing that worries me is Google turning evil even though they don't realize it. there are real issues to putting everything on the cloud, security, backups, times when you don't have access to the cloud...etc.

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

You should go to the Google Wave site though and sign up, so when they release another bunch you will be in line for one.


Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

There are no guarantees about Google, but the fact is we are using their tools for lots of tasks. As for the cloud questions, well, those are going to sort themselves out, but I think we will see more tasks moving to the cloud. I have the feeling that Google will create products for enterprises that are reluctant to put all of their internal conversations in the cloud.

Thanks again for your comment.


skooda 0 Newbie Poster

Hi, i am student from Czech Republic, I was try long time ago to request an invite, but without any success. I really want to test it. Can you please send me an invitation? (<EMAIL SNIPPED>). Thank you so much.

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Sorry skooda, but I don't have any invitations. I didn't' get any as a guest of the first round of people who were invited to test the product. Sorry.


peter_budo 2,532 Code tags enforcer Team Colleague Featured Poster

@migcosta don't know if you know anything about Confluence or Jira but company behind these products already released plugin (you must have Wave account to see it) to add Wave to these tools

danbrugger 0 Newbie Poster

If u hav Wave invitation left, please drop 1 to my box


If u want to exchange with Google Voice invitation, I hav 2 left in my account

peter_budo 2,532 Code tags enforcer Team Colleague Featured Poster

People please do not post your email addresses requesting invitations to Wave! Any such request will be delete!

dankeldsen 0 Newbie Poster

Ron - Definite Pros and Cons of Google Wave, and getting used to what this "new paradigm" is good for, and what it isn't, is a major part of the challenge. Had a long chat (which I haven't written up yet, with the product manager "Dr. Wave" out at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference) - there's a multi-pronged effort coming along from many other players besides Google, some of which was demoed at the conference.

The usage issues of Wave are similar to the issues of having a separate RSS Reader - now, you potentially have (at least) 3 inboxes;

  1. E-mail
  2. RSS
  3. Wave

I've written a few pieces on Wave, where it came from, where it's going, and issues I've experienced or witnessed in work with clients looking to collaborate in a "modern" way.


For those looking for invitations to Google Wave, comment on one of the above mentioned blog posts (with some substance, please - thanks), and use a Gmail account as your e-mail info (hidden in the profile), and I will add you to my invite queue. Have roughly 20 left at this point.

Stay sane, Ron - and keep up the great coverage!

flashfango -6 Junior Poster in Training

Wonderful content, thanks for your sharing!

peter_budo commented: What a waste of time. User profile signature links visible in forum threads are NOT visible in news articles. Spammer failure -3
flashfango -6 Junior Poster in Training

Good things, i think sharing a good thing is also happy, thanks for sharing your experience with us!

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