Google Wave: Has potential, but let loose too soon

Google Wave: Has potential, but let loose too soon

Summary: Google Wave was "released" too soon. Sure it is only in preview-mode but what I see so far doesn't fill me with confidence, even though it could have some potential.

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Google Wave has annoyed me so far. Because I am set in my ways and stubborn enough to brandish anything new, exciting and radical to my everyday routine as "a giant waste of my time", I saw Wave as more of a challenge than anything else.

At the moment the only real factor it has in its favour is the real-time collaborative space, and of course I see this as a positive from a students' perspective in a university enterprise arena. But besides that, it has very little substance. Sure it has the avatars, the ability to change the colour of certain items here and there, and it'll give you a contacts list. Besides that? Mostly unfinished features and no obvious end-game.

One of my favourite features so far is the "Sign out" button in the top right hand corner. This has been particularly useful when pulling out my own hair, trying to work out what the hell is going on, and becoming confused as to what is being said.

The potential

If it were to be opened up as a platform where developers could add plug-ins and additional bits of software to make the experience better (which if it isn't already planned, Google - do it, otherwise I can't see anything with it).

The 10 minute video showing the cut-down main features, where you can drag and drop files into a wave, doesn't seem to work for me yet using both Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows. The video (apparently) used Safari on a Mac, so perhaps it is only available for this niche market.

For crying out loud, there aren't even any settings to play with yet. The best bit about software in my mind is the settings to tweak, adjust, tinker with and inevitably screw up.

But maybe the long of the short of it is that it just doesn't even feel slightly ready yet. There's no particular way to get started, no easy way to begin, and I was immensely confused when features which weren't available yet opened up a draft wave to explain it. There is no linear learning curve (excuse the oxymoron) and for me, is too tricky and fiddly to get working with comfortably.

Maybe, like Twitter, nobody really understands it at first, until you dive into it head first and really immerse yourself into the culture of the new product.

But everything you would hope for is there already. The search bar, the contacts pane, navigation areas (like the folders you would expect from an email account), tags, uploading and downloading, and a reading pane. Some may see a paradigm towards using Outlook or perhaps a Google's perspective of how their version of Hotmail would look like; Gmail aside, of course.

The real-life scenario

A course colleague and I are due to give a presentation to our seminar on Wednesday. Through the typical reason of being far too busy and having many other things which take priority over a 15 minute speech on a subject, of which we have spent tens of thousands of pounds to attend a place to merely prove ourselves intellectually, we left it to the last minute.

So with this, while we both have Google Wave accounts and suggested it could have been an idea, it was down to general consensus that neither of us had any idea what we were doing on it, and went back to old school methods (excuse the pun).

I separated the topic into two sections - I took one, and he took the other - and this was suggested over email. On Tuesday evening, we'll send each other what we both have, over email still, then to blag our way through it there and then in the seminar after e-preparation.

Email works just nicely for the time being, until Wave offers students something of more substance.

Everybody else seems to love it except me, with the heart-warming exception of fellow curmudgeony colleague, Jason Perlow. In my eyes, as a next-generation student, Wave, at the moment is doing just that, waving, as it slowly sinks beneath the icy, cold waters of the Google ocean.

Topics: Collaboration, Google

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30 comments
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  • Open source

    Keep in mind that the code to developers is completely open source. If someone wants to make their own wave software or use the real time HTML 5 support for something else.

    Besides this is just a preview of the basics. Open to only 100,000 people, you can't expect much. Plus Google is famous for keeping it's software in Beta for ages...

    There won't be a whole lot of excitement right now but it's coming, eventually. Google may be slow but they do tend to come up with some super amazing stuff.

    Eventually I think wave will be running alongside Google Reader, maps, voice, chrome, earth, picasa and blogger. And who knows, they may even keep GMail...lol I'd think they would sooner integrate Wave INTO gmail.

    All Wave to me is cool new code for the cool new HTML 5.
    thorax232
  • Fear of Microsoft is what drives Google now...

    Anyway, this crap isn't going any higher than a beta. Perpetual beta that is....
    transposeIT
    • Indifference ? fear

      .
      IT_User
    • No one fears Microsoft anymore

      .
      eMJayy
      • And that would be a big mistake - ask netscape...nt

        nt
        ItsTheBottomLine
        • Netscape

          And exactly how is MS going to "cut off Google's air supply"
          like they did to Netscape. It is more likely that it will be
          Google who cuts off the MS air supply. Whose revenue
          decreased the last 4 quarters and whose has kept on
          increasing? Who has laid off nearly 6,000 workers, and
          who keeps on hiring? Is Android not trashing the Windows
          Mobile market share?

          PS. Did you know that a lot of the Netscape code made it
          to Mozilla (Firefox) who are slowly but surely cutting off the
          MS Internet Explorer air supply.
          bigpicture
    • Unfortunately/fortunately depending on your perspective that..

      is correct. They leave stuff in beta, don't fully go beyond intial idea a lot, sometimes they do...and that is what gives our leaders (enterprise) fear in laying in bed with them fully. For students, it works, because they are in a constant "Beta flux" so it makes sense, but from a real business world right now they have some image issues...at least that has been our experience, when you dive deam the rainbow fades a little.
      ItsTheBottomLine
  • RE: Google Wave: Has potential, but let loose too soon

    I see massive potential for Google Wave especially in
    terms of project collaboration - but it's all about
    getting used to new ways of working. At present, I email
    a Specification to the project team and then enter into
    various "design" discussions. From these discussions,
    "evolves" a new version of a specification.
    mulkraj
    • I second this.

      Wave has the potential to be revolutionary. It
      needs to get into the hands of developers so
      they can get their heads around this. For
      example, I think that a Wave IDE (Eclipse &
      Wave integration) could be a fabulous tool.
      For teaching, you could record a good developer
      building applications and then play back the
      process. What a great tool to tutorials. If
      you have group development, you could use Wave
      to record code changes between builds. This is
      a new take on version control. Is is a good
      idea? Don't know yet. It may be great, it may
      be really terrible. Who can tell in advance?
      Get this into the hands of developers and have
      the pundants cool their pens for a while.
      shis-ka-bob
  • Hey Zach

    After reading "If it were to be opened up as a
    platform where developers could add plug-ins and
    additional bits of software to make the experience
    better (which if it isn?t already planned, Google -
    do it, otherwise I can?t see anything with it).

    The 10 minute video showing the cut-down main
    features, where you can drag and drop files into a
    wave, doesn?t seem to work for me yet using both
    Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows. The video
    (apparently) used Safari on a Mac, so perhaps it is
    only available for this niche market."

    Did you look at the hour long introduction video from
    last summer? Google is open sourcing this platform
    and opening it to developers. Which seems to make
    your first criticism mute. It seems to me that you
    wrote before you did sufficient research.
    shis-ka-bob
    • I agree, what's up Zach?

      Sounds like the author spent the first 15 minutes ever hearing about Google Wave trying to use it and that is it!?! Seriously..."if it were opened up..." "Only available for this nich market!" Ever heard of g-a-d-g-e-t-s or r-o-b-o-t-s? Although I agree that there is a lot left to be desired about the current manifestaion of Wave, it doesn't take a ZDNet genius to figure out that there is a ton of interesting potential. For example, starting a discussion wave and having each topic be a wavelet that is linked to its own wave. That way people could subscribe to the one wave and see in a very ordered way all the other associated discussions. Collaborative trip planning, video conference game playing the potential is quitre large. I think that is the point of wave, not that Google wants to give users everything, they want to provide a space where users can invent themselves and invent their own needed utilities. Cuirrently, nothing on the web quite lets you do that with the flexibility of Wave.
      jivester
    • Yep

      But couldn't be bothered to sit through an hour presentation about something that I'd already made my mind up about. A 10 minutes demo was enough.

      And that's now how you spell my name.
      zwhittaker
      • Strange attitude

        You couldn't be bothered to do some research? Boy, you've got some attitude! It's amazing you even have an opinion! I used to read (some) of your blogs, I won't bother anymore, I've made my mind up about it :-)
        Eleutherios
  • RE: Google Wave: Has potential, but let loose too soon

    Shouldn't have been released at all. Google Wave is nothing more than IRC and a whiteboard application put together. Now that I think about it, most whiteboard apps already had a feature to communicate. So Google copied a 10 year old idea and did it poorly. That's what you get when your employees have no interest in making new and original products but instead sitting around playing with office toys all day.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Office Toys jab again HUH?

      http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-10532-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=71154&messageID=1371772&tag=content;col1
      Metronome49
    • You're speaking from first hand knowledge?

      ...Or are you still parroting talking points?
      awasson1
  • RE: Google Wave: Has potential, but let loose too soon

    "The Potential - If it were to be opened up as a platform where developers could add plug-ins and additional bits of software to make the experience better (which if it isn?t already planned, Google - do it, otherwise I can?t see anything with it)."

    I assume you didn't take the time to watch the roll-out video. -- They spent quite a while talking about how it will be open and they are actively working towards that end. That's the whole reason they rolled it out early, to give developers a head start.

    "If it were rolled out into email..." Did you even bother to read or watch anything in regards to the purpose of Google Wave and what their ideas are for it? Before you stick your foot in your mouth any further, I suggest you spend a little time watching the roll-out video. I found your little story here annoying.
    FlyingsCool
  • I agree with Zack

    I got my invite to join and was disappointed at first blush.

    Why not integrate your existing Gmail contacts into Wave?

    All these different Google software projects need to be rolled into one. Google Voice is another one that could be integrated. Take them all, roll it into one program/project and call it Google Everything.

    I'll take another look to see if they've opened up the options in a few days.

    Cheers,

    T
    TaDaH
  • RE: Google Wave: Has potential, but let loose too soon

    the drag and drop feature required "gears" because its not HTML 5 standard at this moment in time. They are trying to get it implemented soon.
    CtrlAltDel_z
  • RE: Google Wave: Has potential, but let loose too soon

    Seems similar to MS SharePoint.
    Webguy007