Review of my Google Wave experience, after sort of using it for a month

The buzz on Google Wave has slowed down considerably, considering that Google had big news that was announced 2 days ago. I’m not sure how the Google Phone will compare with Google Wave, but I hope we can say that the impact of both still are or will be quite interesting.

Image Credit: Flickr user niallkennedy
During the holiday season, Google gave out thousands of invites to users who already had Wave so that they may invite friends to use the service. How many do I still have left? 18! I’m not sure if there just isn’t enough interest or people simply don’t care to find out what exactly Google Wave is, at least not enough to seek out an invite from a friend (i.e. that everyone who would want it or would be open to trying it already does have it).

So far, I’ve used Google Wave with friends and family to:

  1. Participated in a poll on how many people think Rain (the Korean hip hop star in the movie Ninja Assassin) is cool
  2. Load copies of my statement of purpose for my friend to proofread and give suggestions on
  3. Post pictures for my sister to access and use for her painting project
  4. Say hello, all at once, to the people in the academic department I was in for graduate school
  5. Play Sudoku with others
  6. Invite others to Google Wave

Number 2 on that list was particularly better than using email because I ended up making several edits between the time I posted it and the time when he was free to read it. I would simply go back and delete the old copy and post the new one. I could have waited until he had time to read it to send an email, but I like this way of doing things. Later, I would post other things for him to read and I have peace of mind knowing that they are waiting for him in the Wave whenever he would like to find them. Same thing with number 3.



Overall, I think I could really enjoy using Google Wave, but the limiting factor still seems to be that not enough people are using it, or even know how they can use it to make their life easier. I have a feeling that a large majority of people who have it still ignore it or possibly never even tried using it.


Bottom line, I think Google Wave is a great tool. It may not replace email, but it could easily supplement and work with it. Also, I want to get more people on Wave, but I’m not sure who wants these invites that I have.


If you want one or know of someone who does, post a comment and I can send it!

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7 Responses

  1. chewbear says

    It would be interesting to compare different types of technology and try to figure out why some of them take off and others don’t. I think it has something to do with ease of use and motivation for users to contribute value.

    Even for that class where we used a wiki, they needed to have set assignments in place to force a good number of people in the class to actually use it. But it also took a little longer for some people to understand how to use it. Maybe as the general population becomes more comfortable with these types of things it’ll be easier to introduce something new.

  2. Nat says

    Yeah, when I created my own Wiki (www.lexingtonian.net) it was amazing how quickly I got people to participate and add content to it. It was an amazing, fun, and creative tool. When the community is virtually unlimited in size it works a lot better than a smaller community, however–if you have a group of 10 or fewer people I think it’s not sustainable without a major time dedication.

    There are usually two major types of people who will contribute to Wikis, in my opinion:

    -People who contribute massive amounts of data, and edit others’ data in large amounts as well. These users are extremely rare, and in a population of 10 people you would probably only have 1 person who wanted to put forth this much effort (in that case, most likely the person who pushed for the Wiki in the first place!).

    -People who make occasional small contributions. There are a lot more of these people, but you need a large number of them to make a collaborative difference.

    If a group (even a small one) has a distinct goal they can definitely turn a Wiki into the right tool for the job, but if it’s a Wiki for general knowledge accumulation (with no concrete, achievable end state), I think you need a large user base to succeed.

  3. chewbear says

    I really like Wikis for collaboration. We used it a as a main tool in one class I took last year. I think they are super useful for many things and hope that I get to use something like it again in the future.

    I see what you are saying. There seems to be too much going on with Wave, and maybe it may never become very popular. I hope that it does stay alive though because it is still exciting to me what it could mean for collaboration.

  4. Nat says

    We’ve talked about using it a bit here at work as well, but just like our aspirations to get a Wiki going and use it for everything, the idea hasn’t gotten off the ground. We do use an internal chat client (Spark) pretty extensively, and I feel like no one thinks it’s insufficient enough for our needs to move onto another piece of collaborative software.

    I kind of think the software is too complex of an idea to be easily digested. Wikis are webpages anyone can edit. Chat is short messages that are sent back and forth and kept in a simple real-time log. E-mail is like chat only in longer form and with better organization and recipient designation functionality.

    All of these are pretty simple ideas, but how would you simply describe Google Wave? It’s a mish-mash of everything. I think that people were excited about it, but Google got overzealous and threw in too many features, which is why enthusiasm for it has died down so much. It’s not a clever and simple tool; it’s a bulky swiss army knife containing everything AND the kitchen sink.

  5. chewbear says

    I get what you mean, but didn’t a lot of things seem too complicated for it to become universal? Many people still don’t fully understand what email is, or what a browser is, so I think that is all relative. The learning curve is still an obstacle.

    I remember when Gmail first came out and everyone was dying to get an invite because it wasn’t open to everyone yet. That sort of happened here too, but then the hype died down and I don’t see many people using it or talking about it anymore. I’m not sure why this happened, maybe it is too new for adoption just yet.

    I think I would use it more if I had a job and workplace where people would use it because that is where I think it could be very effective. I’ve seen some plugins that are adding voice capabilities to Wave that could also catapult this into a great conferencing tool.

  6. Nat says

    I think that Wave is a very useful tool, but the interface seems too complicated for it to become as universal a tool as some people would like. It’s very good for collaboration and practically infinitely extensible, but right now the learning curve isn’t conducive to mass-scale use or application. I think it needs a 100% overhaul of usability while maintaining its functionality.

    That’s definitely no easy task, though…

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