Following Rich again with Google Wave coverage, I figured I should add some of my own impressions of Wave after using it for a bit.
First and foremost, Wave is a work in progress, and it may eventually live up to the potential we all saw in it after the demo at Google I/O in June. However, right now, it’s a snoozer for some (ahem, Paul), and a nightmare of unproductivity for others.
After I got my coveted invitation, I immediately logged in and was hit with a “what now” moment. I had a few waves waiting for me, which I replied to, but that experience felt exactly like email. I didn’t get the IM feel until later, when Rich and I happened to be on the same wave.
I had tinkered briefly with Rich’s sandbox account earlier in the year, with exactly the same “what now” feeling. Wave seems like an empty room at first. I guess the main difference this time is that it’s way more stable than the sandbox was, which Rich also mentioned.
So, faced with having to learn on my own, I watched a couple of the videos provided in an introductory wave and quickly found the “with:public” keyword.
There went the quiet.
Tons of public waves are out there, and they’re very active. The tough part was scrolling through them all to find anything remotely interesting. Plus, you can’t just browse a wave. Once you click it, it’s added to your Inbox.
I did find a trash button to remove waves from my Inbox, which led to a funny discovery. That trash button is hidden on smaller resolutions. I stumbled onto this by seeing the button on my 1600 x 1200 CRT, but not on my 1280 x 1024 LCD.
Turns out you have to expand the Inbox horizontally to see it on smaller displays, but there are no visual cues to clue you in that there are other buttons on the toolbar though. I hope that’s not the final design.
This leads me to the next observation. Wave requires work. I have to learn how to use it, which I find a bit annoying. I guess I’m accustomed to more intuitive web apps, especially from Google, but I guess Wave gets a pass for now a) because it’s a preview release, and b) because it’s a game-changer.
Incidentally, Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani has a fantastic post on how to get started called Google Wave 101. Check it out first or walk through it when you get your account. It’s an excellent resource.
Most of the negative feedback about Wave is due to a single fact. It doesn’t do anything new right now. We already have email and chat, and several of the cool robots demoed in June, e.g. Bloggy, aren’t functional yet.
So, many people are rightly feeling let down by the hype, which is understandable. But even if Wave were more functional, I don’t think it would be hailed as a game-changer by many because it simply provides a (debatably) better mousetrap.
There simply aren’t that many tasks that people use the consumer web for that Wave can replace.
Rich and I are of the same mind that Wave will find more success within enterprise firewalls because work provides a slew of processes and tasks, typically spread across many systems, that Wave can automate and centralize.
This should remove the “what now” problem for people, but this is all speculative for now. We won’t know for sure until an open source version is available. That’s when the fun will begin.
Until then, we’ll have to wait and see. I suspect the API will produce some interesting stuff in the meantime. Maybe when Bloggy is working, I’ll post from Wave for giggles.
So, if you’ve been in Wave, what do you think of it? If you want to add me, I’m jkuramot at googlewave dot com.
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