Google Wave goes beta (plus three invites up for grabs!)

By Natania Barron
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

I was a bit miffed when my husband got his Google Wave invite before me; I mean, seriously. I showed it to him in the first place. Still, I’ve been insanely curious since learning about the new product–developed by the makers of GoogleMaps, by the way–since I first watched the introductory video months ago. Right away I saw the value in the application. It seems really smart, from my perspective anyway, to integrate the components of GMail that I use most: email and chat–and do it in a much more content-rich manner.

From the Official Google Blog:

Here’s how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication.

Ten hours after my husband invited me, I got my notification and giddily clicked the link. And, yes. Well. The biggest problem with Wave is that it’s dependent on lots and lots of users and friends. It’s collaboration-minded, and that’s awesome. But when you first start it up and just see two people on your “wave” it’s definitely makes you feel a bit lonely. Okay, really lonely.

Sure, time will bring more connections. But the lag is a bit frustrating. With a whopping three contacts right now it’s not exactly bristling with energy over there. I’m surprised that Google didn’t opt for a quicker contact system, or integrated it with current Gmail contacts (or at least retained email addresses to make inviting easier).

All in all, I can certainly see how Google Wave is going to rock my communication world. I mean, I’m a collaborator. I have writing groups, activism groups, friend groups, family groups, blogging groups, geeky groups… Organization is always an issue with me, and even through copious Gmail labels and filters, I still feel overwhelmed. Not to mention that with my excessively short attention span (and love of tools like Twitter) the opportunity to communicate in one place is really exciting.

But the jury’s not out yet. Until I have proper time to tinker, and more contacts to actually make the wave make sense, I’ll have to hold off on a more formal review.

However, in the spirit of altruism, I still have three (3) remaining Google Wave invites. If you’d like one, just leave a comment. We’ll select randomly from the best answers and post the winners this evening!

Edit: Our winners have been selected, and invites have been sent. You should get confirmation within the next day or so (as mentioned, my invite took 10 hours to make it to my inbox!).

Congratulations to infostud (who made me lol with his typo), to protocollie for the most creative response, and to Brian for the poetic turn (I can always appreciate some good haiku!)

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