Is Anyone Riding the Google Wave?

As excited as I was about Google Wave, right out of the gate, I’m still scratching my head wondering exactly what it’ll do for me in the long run. Yes, I can see how it might help collaborative projects, which is fine. But there are a few glaring issues that—even though the product is in Beta stage—have been keeping me from actually using it.

No Gmail integration. There’s no easy gmail integration to speak of. There’s not even an easy way to invite people who are already your contacts in Gmail. This makes adding new people rather tedious, especially for a Google product.

Slow speeds in many respects. Everything moves very slowly. Sure, I anticipated that things like video might take a little while, but even the chats move at molasses pace some days. What ends up happening? A lot of frustration. Not to mention the lag between invites and signing up new people. When something starts to catch on, you’ve got to be able to move with it. While I understand Google had a lot of applications to sift through for the project, waiting as much as a week for confirmation is just ridiculous. Did Google forget? We’re people of the Internet age. We want everything yesterday.

Separate windows. So, I’ve now got GChat in one window with Gmail, but now I’ve got to open up Wave, too. Sometimes people are on both, but rarely. 90% of the time while I’m on Wave, there is no one around at all. There are a great many people in my contacts list—many of whom I have no idea how they got there in the first place—but most of them are never on. Probably because they don’t want another window open, either!

How is it different from email again? I know when I first saw the Google Wave intro video I was blown away. I figured it would change email communication. But then again, I type fast, with relatively few errors. I think for many people, especially since we can’t turn off the type as you go feature right now, there’s a certain feeling of self consciousness going on. It’s hard to edit when people are watching you type (if they’re on at all). A way around it? Open up… another window?

I worry that Google Wave is one of those good in concept but not in practice kind of applications. It can certainly work for some people, but definitely not for everyone. In fact, in the last month the only messages I’ve received on Wave have been from Google… giving me more invites.

When it comes down to it, I think people are reluctant to leave the formats they’re comfortable with. As useful as I think Google Wave could be, the preview has enough holes in it that, unfortunately, it’s left a lot of users in the dark. Let’s just hope when the full-service version rolls out, they’ve attended to some of these issues.

Because right now? It’s feeling quite lonely over on Google Wave.

That said: I do have 10 shiny new invites for the first ten comments here, if anyone wants them. If you haven’t yet, you can take it for a spin and see for yourself.

[Header picture source: easiertounderstandthanwave.com]

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25 Responses to Is Anyone Riding the Google Wave?

  1. Google Wave is very intriguing. I'd like to test it and make my own opinion, so, glad to see you offer invitations.

  2. I currently have 25 invites available, I can't seem to find enough people to give these to. And of the people I do have on my list, no one is ever on. Great product in theory, I too was amazed by their introduction video, however I'm not as impressed as I thought I would be.

  3. I have been on wave for about a week now. Still have six invites of my own to send out. I do open up a window for wave when I open up my gmail. Your right there is no crossing over, it's almost as separate from gmail as having a hotmail or comcast email account is.

    The reason you see some people in your contact box without actively connecting with them is because Wave looks at your contacts in gmail and automatically adds anyone with a Wave account.

    I am still learning how to use Wave. I know where Google wants to go with Wave, just not sure how much use I will give it myself.

  4. I've been using Wave for a couple of weeks now. While I'm still working on getting the majority of my friends on it, I've been using it for various things so far. Here's what I've got:

    First and foremost, it's a collaboration tool. Think a forum board with word doc collaboration. You start a wave, (aka, thread, post, whatever), invite people do it, and then it's free form from there. You can comment directly on people's typing (like if you wanted to add a snarky comment in these here parenthesis after the statement I just wrote) or a reply, or whathave you. This is especially nice for epic discussions where scrolling through some 500 linear posts makes it hard to follow things. Inject comments or make changes, edits, at any point, and use rich media (pictures, video, etc.) when doing so.

    It's nice for is a personal notebook. If you were looking for a Google Notebook replacement, this is it. Just start a new wave, and never invite anyone to it. I have one for my Christmas listing, another as a general scratch pad, etc.

    This early in the stage it's hard to remember to have it open and use it; my suggestion is to get a group of friends you frequently converse with and send them all invites. After they're on, start a wave with all of them and just start posting stuff. Cool links you found, videos, pictures, etc. Start commenting and editing the stuff your friends post. Watch them post things in real time and chat back and forth. You'll soon see it can be powerful in many ways.

    It's still slow as was pointed out, and when applets are running it can be even worse. Also, it's good to keep in mind that this isn't a replacement for e-mail. Not everything is a discussion. (and tighter integration would be nice!)

    All being said, it's quite promising so far though. Looking forward to seeing where it goes.

  5. I have it, and don't know what I'm supposed to do with it. If someone responds to a wave have no way of knowing unless I check it.

    I feel pretty stupid checking something only to discover, no change.

    At least Facebook, and everything else notifies my email if someone has responded to my profile. It just seems pointless.

    • Now why would you expect it to send to your E-Mail? It's parallel to e-mail, not dependent.

      Yes, a client-server protocol is in the works, if that's what you're asking. People will be able to create apps that do notifications, etc.

  6. I've heard such lukewarm reactions to this that I say to myself I can wait until it's available to everyone, but the geek in me says no, pick me, pick me I want an invite! :)

  7. My computer science class has started using it for teacher-to-student help at home. It lets us paste code right in preserving indentation and then lets us highlight parts. It's slow at times, but I think that's because google probably hasn't too many servers up for the load it gets.

    I doubt I'd use Wave if I didn't use it for class.

  8. I've gotten my account almost a month ago now and has been very useful. The biggest part about Wave is it's extensibility.

    Wave is designed to give you the base for what you want to do with it, which is:

    a. central collaborative communication

    b. history tracking

    c. easy to use interface

    Once you got this covered, this is when you start doing collaborative projects. And so far, if you look for it, you can find gadgets (client side/interface widgets) and robots (server side widgets) that will do some really interesting stuff. You guys obviously know about the Sudoku game widget and the map widget, but you can also add your own widget if it's available on a website. Check out this document I found that lists some available gadgets and robots already created (http://www.docstoc.com/docs/13086406/Google-Wave-Extension-List).
    To add a widget, just copy the XML Url from the document and then start a new Wave. In the formatting toolbar, click on the jigsaw puzzle piece (Add Gadget by URL) and paste the URL in the box. This will load the XML into your interface and any user you include in the wave will have access to this. So far, I've played around with an HTML Editor/Previewer, Vector Editor and a few others and although some of them are pretty rough around the edges, it's a beta and I'm impressed with how much is done already.

    Just like Natania mentioned, it'll be a bit hard for Waves to catch on, but in a working environment or at any moment where you need multiple user collaboration, this is the way to go.

    Oh, and I also have about 17 invites to give away too.

  9. I think google wave will become their cloud unified communications app. google voice isn't hooked into gmail either as well as it would seem it could be. they are working on the pieces than will combine them. in 2010 i think you will see this part of their cloud os or offered as an enhancement to basic mail, IM, and voice, "unified".

  10. This is a preview, so a lot of things are still coming.

    If one of your GMail contacts gets Wave, he/she will automatically be added to your Wave contact list… already happens. It worked for me, at least…

    Speed will come as browsers get faster. Try running it on Chrome, it's fastest on that.

    GMail will never be combined with Wave, however, there may eventually be a GTalk-Wave bridge, or even an EMail-Wave bridge.

  11. Hi Dude!

    I´ve been og Wave for hmm is it a month or two now I think, just wanted to comment on your post.

    Yea Wave is a bit slow, but hell it´s beta, thats allowed.

    It´s going to get fixed when it hit v1.0 it´s going to get faster.

    And then yes, it has potential for some people who find it cool and useful, like me, and for some they think, what am i going to use that for? but then again, there are still some people without e-mail even though it´s been around for years. Right now we are in beta, and already a lot of applications are out for Wave, for instance I have used Wave for a guestbook on my website, you could have used Wave for commenting here, granted while not very nessesary it´s still a posibility you could take, as I have done it.

    Coders in some respect is gods in their own way, if they can imagine it they can create it, and Google Wave it self is a good example of that. Who know what might be possible on Wave in the future. And in regards to the Guestbook way I´ve used Wave then it took me a few secounds to find a site with bots and thirdparty ways of using Wave, it was a snap creating a guestbook from a Wave and integrating it, granted I know nearly all of HTML by heart and a fair amount of PHP, but it was soo easy that as far as I can see, anyone could have done it, i´d say they most certainly can, if they´d got a website, it was pute HTML/JS nothing fansy.

    As opposed to find a free guestbook, to your likeing, create an account on the third party site, and costumize it, and copy paste the script codes, like you had to do with Wave, which was the first step and a hell of a lot simpler than any copy past code i´ve seen for guestbooks and the like. Allready you´ve used an enormous amount of time as opposed to integrate Wave. And you would nearly with gaurantee have to live with advertising or link back to the free guestbook service, with Wave you don´t have to do that.You want your visitor to stay on your website.

    And now you might say, yea but your visitors would then need a Wave account. Yea so? it was easy finding Google Wave invites for my friends, once I was in Wave myself. and no I diden´t have invites at the time. I found more than I had friends willing to use Wave, there´s a lot of invites floating arround. And on my site, where I use Wave for a guestbook, I myself are giving out invites i´ve still got a few left. Once Wave exits beta it will be like gmail, a 2 minute sign up procedure and your going.

    This is just my take on Wave. Nothing for or agains you as a blog publisher just my opinion.

  12. I think that we should remember that this is just a preview – I am sure that when the Wave will at it's final stage it will be much better.

    I am alerady using it for meeting summiries and some documention at my comapany and I am pleased.

    Omri

  13. I was in the first set of users who got invited and my interest in it died pretty quick. I always explain it to people as slow complicated email with wiki functions.

    Google continues to refresh my 30 invites, but even with everyone I know using it now I still find myself bored and without any direction on how to use it in a useful manner.

    They lost their innovative Gmail groove with this one.

  14. I will be sending out invites as soon as (… you guessed it) Google Wave decides to actually show me my inbox again. It's currently displaying a blank page, no matter how many times I refresh it, thinking it's "Done". :) I promise, soon… or as soon as Google allows me back in.

  15. Natania…I belive you are not seeing the big picture here. I already love Google Wave. I've managed to convince some friends and family to join, and we are using it all the time…finding new "uses" for it by the minute.

    Of course there's a lot missing, It's flawed…it's not READY. But I think it will definately replace email. Because it's email, and MORE.

    Beyond being a collaborative space…it's also tidy. Neat. Easy. Functional.

    My english sucks, therefore I canno't really express what I mean…but I truly belive that you are not seeing the big picture here. I also belive that this will be a major step forward in online communication.

    Every person I've showned Google Wave (friends, family, IT colleagues, etc) they were amazed by it and pretty much begged for an invitation.