I think I've been on communications overload for some time now but just didn't realize how severe my suffering was until my Google Wave invitation arrived this week
I must admit that I initially thought of Wave as yet another communications service that requires my daily attention - joining the likes of my corporate e-mail inbox, my personal Gmail inbox, my Facebook inbox (and IM chats), Twitter DMs, IM chats, Google Voice voicemails, work voicemails and finally cell phone voicemails.
It didn't take long for me to recognize the value in Wave, though. Consider a common scenario that occurred this morning: A colleague sent an e-mail to a group of us to discuss plans for some similar posts that are in the works. I replied. So did the others. But some of our replies overlapped, so we replied again - and again. As of now, I have about a dozen e-mails in my inbox with the same subject line. I could delete the ones that I've already read but I may need to reference them later - so I won't delete them. Eventually, of course, they'll get pushed further and further down in the inbox and, once they're out of sight, they'll never get deleted. They'll just live in the inbox forever and ever.
Earlier this week, I started thinking more about the ineffectiveness of my own e-mail inbox after reading a Wall Street Journal piece titled, "Why Email No Longer Rules..." Admittedly, the past couple of weeks have been pretty slammed for me - some travel, a couple of trade shows, earnings calls and even a Windows 7 party - and that means my e-mail inbox is backed-up. Sure, I can sit down and devote an afternoon to catching up on e-mail - but you never really catch up, do you? As soon as you answer one e-mail, several more land in the inbox.
And so, I've started thinking about doing what many people have already done in their effort to ease the pressure (and guilt) of a clogged inbox. They declare e-mail bankruptcy - delete every message and start from scratch. (If you sent me an e-mail in the past several weeks ago and are still waiting for a reply, please don't take it personal when I say that your correspondence likely landed in the Trash folder.)
E-mail - at least my inbox - has become clogged with useless drivel: unsolicited press releases, newsletters, pitches from PR types who have no clue about what I write about and so on. Every morning and afternoon, I try to take a few minutes just clearing my inbox of stuff that doesn't matter - but I never get ahead.
In a nutshell, I don't see Google Wave as a replacement for e-mail. Used the right way, though, Google Wave not only can relieve some pressure from the overloaded inbox but can also route important messages - stuff that needs my attention and can't afford to get lost in the e-mail noise - to a place that's harder to overlook.
Right now, it's hard to see that day - mostly because Google Wave is still new and many people still don't have it. Remember when people used to ask you if you had e-mail? Now, it's just assumed, right?
Eventually, the same might be said for Google Wave - especially for companies that are already using Google Apps.
To learn more about Google Wave, check out the introductory video below. Other Google Wave instructional videos can be found on the GoogleVideos YouTube channel.