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Thursday, 29 October 2009

To get a Google Wave account, all I did was ask. But it's lonely. Using Wave without others is no different to using email alone: there's no point. You're in the same situation as the software tester who hasn't got 'real' data to play with. The app simply doesn't work without collocutors on your side. Software testers will know what I'm talking about, and the rest of you can imagine it as well.

I want invites so that I can really test-run the application in a real scenario.

That doesn't mean that this post will be shorter than usual. There are some things I can say with certainty, even though some of them may be reports of bugs. Which is probably why Wave admins are holding back on issuing invites for the present.

If there's anyone else out there who wants to play, my handle is 'matthewdasilva'.

I have one interlocutor, who I found through Twitter. We have a wave going right now. The best thing that we've decided about Wave, so far, is the neatness it offers in terms of communication. I'm not even talking about collaborative authoring or document creation. I'm just talking about managing information generated as a result of an email conversation.

And Google sold Wave mainly on this benefit, during their product launch last month in Sydney. Each piece of the conversation is laid down in the right-hand window sequentially. Anyone can add an interpolative comment anywhere in the sequence just by clicking into the stream. And sub-comments can be made to sub-comments in a staggered sequence just like in the days of threaded BBs.

I haven't tried to use the 'gadgets' let alone the many 'app-bots' that third-party developers have come up with. For the moment, I'm only interested in how Wave works as a killer app. And the app they're trying to kill is email.

Each time an addition is made to a wave, your browser's tab counter increments by one. So it's not each wave that's changed that counts as an 'add', it's each instance of text added by a person involved in a wave. If five people in each of two waves adds a comment, you get an increment in the tab counter of 10.

In the left-hand window each wave that gets updated displays a counter, indicating the number of new comments it contains. This guides you from the tab to the wave, so you can find the new stuff.

So far, there's no doubt in my mind. Even though I've got only one interlocutor and we're only using a single wave, I believe that Wave will be hard to beat by conventional email. It's just neater, more scalable, less time-consuming and error-prone. In the product launch, they highlighted the fact that, with Wave, you don't forget to include people, as you often do with regular email. But it's more than that.

To see the entire conversation, you simply scroll up and down a list of utterances. Each utterance has attached to it the picture and name of the person who made it, so there's no mistaking who made a comment. In a regular email you can be doing an awful lot of scrolling to follow the conversation. Here, it's a whole lot more compact and accessible. Visual clues help to organise data, and there just seems to be less of it to deal with.

This advantage can save a lot of time, compared with regular email. I see regular email surviving the onslaught of the Wave but it will be used for other things, like first contacts and official correspondence with public utilities, government and the like.

Wave seems ideally suited to environments where a set of people who often work together on a project are found. They will prefer its ease-of-use and convenience. Getting invited to a Wave will be like being included in a Cc nowadays: a sign of acceptance and inclusion. Using Wave will be another type of communication, additional to regular email.

There are bugs, of course, but they will be ironed out. Less attractive, for me, are the search tools. I've yet to work out how they work but, again, this might just be because there's not enough 'real' data to play with.

In brief, I'm still excited. But I'm eagerly awaiting the moment when I can send out a bunch of invites to people who I regularly correspond with. The larger groups of hands-on operatives are the ones who will make or break this product, not tech enthusiasts like lil' ol' moi.

1 comment:

Laura wilson said...

I usually work with web-based applications like http://www.showdocument.com
I use it for sharing my designs and documents with partners and clients,
but i guess it can used for other purposes too. If you're looking for a free solution you should check it out.
- Laura W.