How I Came to Love Google Wave

Google Wave I’m not an early adopter. I really am not. Maybe to some of you, or to some industries, but in the tech world, I’m always the guy showing up a few months or so after the party. I was the 10,000th (ish) user of Twitter. I didn’t get an iPhone until the 3G. And when Google Wave came out, I immediately dismissed it, the way many people dismissed Twitter when it first came out.

And then I saw the light.

I went from a guy who hated Google Wave to telling Kodak’s CMO on stage yesterday that Google Wave would be the one app I’d ask to salvage if I could only save one app running today. So how? Why? What’s that about?

There are two things I’ll do with this post: explain what “the light” is to me on Google Wave, and then talk about this thing we do with new technologies.

The Light

Google Wave has been described as different things from different people. It’s been called a replacement for email (I don’t feel that way, but it’s a replacement for one way that we use email). It’s been called Google Talk on steroids (even less so). It’s been called Google Docs for groups (closer).

Google Wave allows for multi-person collaboration. It’s an easy way to work out plans and ideas and concepts with a group of people. Once you start ( here are my first feelings about Wave), you go from total uncertainty to sharing some tips to wishing it did some things better, to using Google Wave for task management.

I’m using it to propose a new book with Julien, to propose a different book with (can I tell them? You tell me later), to hammer out the details of my new soon-to-be-revealed company, to start a side project with a good friend, and several other collaborative efforts.

The “light” is that this tool is better than email about going back and forth, and also, if you use it well (I’m learning to keep the “blips” at the top as the “gold” stuff, and use the blips below a certain point as the “chatter”), then you’ll see obvious and instant reasons for using it. But if you have no obvious collaboration project to try it on, it doesn’t immediately make sense.

In a way, it’s like being given a new device that not many people have. It’s just not useful. (See the network effect.) So, once you get some collaborators and once you get a project rolling, you’ll immediately see the value.

How We Process New Technologies

We process new technologies the way we consume most everything in our lives: “what’s in it for me?” And from that, we also ask, “Why should I change the way I am?” The “escape velocity” of the status quo is often too high to care about and as such, we don’t really feel the urge to switch.

Why should I check out Twitter? It just looks like people talking about their cats. I’ve got serious work to do.

I joke that there’s this cycle where we write a dismissive post about a tech, and then we write about why we ended up falling in love with it about 30 days. This post is that in a way. I used to really crap on Google Wave, and now here I am praising it.

Should we dismiss tech right off the bat? Probably. Should we revisit again? Yes. I think as business people, it’s just not in our best interest to follow every shiny objects. But should we stay open to reconsidering a technology after a fashion? Absolutely. Without this last part, we close ourselves to potential new improvements to our process flow. Imagine never adopting email. Imagine never getting a cell phone. Communications technologies like this are important, and do change how we do business.

Make sense?

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  • gacconsultants

    Hi Chris,

    First, I just want to encourage you to get more on the ball with new technologies, many businesses count on that – LOL

    Google Wave, like Twitter and all of the platforms and applications that are new, need to be experimented with and validated by people actually using them. In the beginning, not many people use these apps or see their value until early adapters (in your case late?) share insight and personal experience of how it can enhance our lives.

    Thanks for sharing this information. You have just made it important to me to actually find ways to start experiencing the benefits of Google Wave.
    Have a good weekend.

  • thomsinger

    It is the same thing with people. Sometimes we meet someone and for whatever reason we think, “loser”, “poser”, “jerk”, or “dull”…. only to revisit the relationship later and discover that they can become an important part of our life. A lesson here is not just about Google Wave or technologies… but all things in life…. do not let our internal and imperfect selves jump to permanent conclusions. Better to allow time and exploration to lead us to our determinations.

  • Dayngr

    This made me giggle a bit and reminded me of the time I said Microsoft's Outlook wouldn't catch on because it was so complicated. It's all a learning curve and seeing how you can actually put the technology to work for you.

  • cgreen23

    Christina, I think as a one-person, you're very right to use OneNote; it's a great program for a solo. Wave's benefits IMHO only come from small group collaboration.

  • tonyfarley

    OK, sold. Now how do I get an invite?

  • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

    All the info and critiques of Google Wave have been helpful, Chris. Thanks. I'm planning a side project with a few friends, and we're going to give it a try. We'll see what happens… :)

  • zrasheed

    I completely agree Chris — the value of any new tech only becomes apparent when it acts as a relevant solution to a problem you are having right then. It took me a long time to buy into the hype of the iPhone because, aside from the sexy UI, I couldn't see why it would be more special than any other smartphone. Then, when Apple began running ads showing the number and variety of apps available on it, it became a lot more utilitarian and (hence) desirable to me (so I got the 3GS last summer!)

    With Google Wave, I have yet to wrap my head around its usefulness because a) I don't use Gmail or really connect with friends over G-chat (so I don't have an automatic base of people to play with) and b) I'm not collaborating over any projects right now (might have been really helpful during grad school!). But it definitely has potential, especially as developers begin creating more apps for it (beyond the voting and pushpins) and we can do a lot more.

    Thanks for the post!

  • nachase

    Chris,

    I received a Google Wave invite recently.

    Like your experience, I became less than thrilled with it's glitches, and beta-like functionality. But after reading your post, I now see clearly the collaborative nature of it's design.

    I will test this on my next project, a series of speaking engagements in Northern California on my illustrious Hollywood career. Thanks for clarifying the appropriate application of Google Wave, it may be the ideal platform for collaboration after all.

    Respectfully,

    Nicholas Chase – Producer / Director
    Nicholas Chase Digital Video Productions
    SF Bay Area CA
    http://www.twitter.com/nachase

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshuaguffey Joshua Guffey

    Good to know. I had a feeling that you might work with it long enough to find the usefulness in it. I've been interested in it as well but I've got fewer collaborative projects with social media minded people on Google Wave than I imagine you do. I've played a bit with it via iPhone on projects around the house, with the kid, etc… but as you know the iPhone interface for Wave leaves something to be desired. If I pull out the laptop my 11 month old is on me like flies on…well you get the picture. He LOVES the 'puter'. I can manage to get work /collaboration done on the iPhone without him noticing too much.

    Can't WAIT for a full featured iPhone solution for Wave…and the network effect of course.

    Thanks for pioneering the workflow tips of working with Wave for us all.

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  • http://www.rennellgarrett.com/ Rinnell Garrett

    If you are planning to use google wave then be careful while typing. The mistake you make is clearly visible to another person. BE CAREFUL.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeSel MikeHudson

    I also think with the right development and waves excellent api you can embed a wave into a webpage, allowing non tech savvy people edit the wave. Saves us internal webdevelopers some time and hassle. Don't get me wrong Google docs are great, but I strongly believe Google Wave is the future!

  • http://getyourinfusion.com/ Russell Tripp

    Phil – You can do a *lot* more in Wave, than you can in Google Docs – using extensions that are coded specifically for collaboration. Also, even if you're not using extensions, it's easier to keep the collaboration discussion in blips, as Chris mentioned, with the doc in its own blip. I've used docs and Wave for collaboration – and wave is way better, once you get to know it a little bit. In fact, I have collaborative waves going right now where there are docs embedded that are in fact, in Google Docs and can be edited inside the wave. I can't tell you how many times recently I've been working with people, communicating via email on projects, and wishing – badly- that the people involved were on wave because it would keep everything I need so much more neatly in one place.

    If you want to see a good, fun example of collaboration in wave, check out – https://wave.google.com/wave/#restored:wave:thi… (and use Playback to see the collaborative part).

    Is Wave perfect for collaboration? Not by a long shot. Is it useful? Absolutely. I use it every single day.

  • http://getyourinfusion.com/ Russell Tripp

    Phil – You can do a *lot* more in Wave, than you can in Google Docs – using extensions that are coded specifically for collaboration. Also, even if you're not using extensions, it's easier to keep the collaboration discussion in blips, as Chris mentioned, with the doc in its own blip. I've used docs and Wave for collaboration – and wave is way better, once you get to know it a little bit. In fact, I have collaborative waves going right now where there are docs embedded that are in fact, in Google Docs and can be edited inside the wave. I can't tell you how many times recently I've been working with people, communicating via email on projects, and wishing – badly- that the people involved were on wave because it would keep everything I need so much more neatly in one place.

    If you want to see a good, fun example of collaboration in wave, check out – https://wave.google.com/wave/#restored:wave:thi… (and use Playback to see the collaborative part).

    Is Wave perfect for collaboration? Not by a long shot. Is it useful? Absolutely. I use it every single day.

  • danawormer

    Appreciate your perspective and share the early friction -skepticism and curiosity – of new technology. I like to think it's part of how our minds adapt and ready for the embrace. Checking out Google Wave too…for better collaboration on all fronts. Thanks.

  • Hank (@hmerkle) Merkle

    I tried to see the example, but it takes me into my waves, do we have to be collaborating to share?
    Here is my basic problem (s);
    Chris and I were talking about wave on twitter and he forwarded me here. The problem is my experience is VERY different than everyone else's. I was excited to use this since recently I was asked to collaborate with a colleague. But when we tired to load pictures, an excel spreadsheet and other data in the wave all we saw was a yield sign and an exclamation point! I have to believe we are doing something wrong. I would have liked to see successful examples from someone other than google!

  • julito77

    As much as I find GW a bit boring, it's because my world is not there yet, or better yet, the people I collaborate with aren't using it. The point you make in bold is actually why so many are frustrated or disillusioned with it: you have to have an obvious collaboration. Without that, it isn't something people will use.

    I do see its potential for good brainstorming and strategy, and actually, a few of us from #LATISM are finally going to use it for one of our projects for this year.

    Thanks again for the posting another very relevant post.

  • http://getyourinfusion.com/ Russell Tripp

    Hmm – I wonder what browser(s) you're using – and if you have Google Gears installed. Gears is required for drag & drop and some other functions in Wave.- and it does work best in Chrome (which makes sense).

    The example link I gave actually is an example from the Google team, but a good one. Here's a post giving the basic idea of it – http://gizmodo.com/5411751/what-if-the-declarat

  • http://twitter.com/Prakky Michelle Prak

    Good read, Chris. I've had similar ups and downs with Google Wave – which I wrote about on my own blog. You've given me a timely reminder to revisit Wave and 'try again'.

  • http://twitter.com/eggmarketing Susan Payton

    Wow, you've hit the nail on the head as to how I feel about technology. My thing is I don't have time to learn a new one (which always puts me at a disadvantage in my profession down the road).

    I've been looking for a reason to get into Google Wave, and you've given it to me. Thanks, senor.

  • http://OnlineMarketingMashup.com Zack

    I've been enjoying all your posts about Google Wave. I've dabbled a little bit with it, but just haven't had the time to really sit down and figure it out yet. Seems like maybe I should wait until I have a good collaboration project.

  • http://twitter.com/steely_glint Tim Panton

    Chris – gotta agree with you there. Wave really shines when you have a team that is spread across timezones. It moves _very_ fast when you are all there (sync) and still works well even while half the team are asleep (async), because it lets them playback the changes made while they were asleep, so they can follow the logic.

    We've been working to embed a collaborative voice gadget with similar sync/async behaviour – give me a shout if you'd like to try it out.

    http://babyis60.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/async-… has a screencast.

  • http://www.medxcentral.com medxcentral (Jim)

    I pulled away from Wave because of it's initial technical difficulties. I was quite confident it would grow up quick as it is obviously a key component to Google's grand vision. Just imagine Chrome OS + Google Wave + Website and Outpost Integration. You'll be able to run a massive business, from the beach… on your Nexus One. Hurry up Google!

    I really need to get back into Wave.. if for no other reason than to “stay in tune” and remain ready for what is to come. *tail wagging with anticipation*

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  • drwright

    I appreciate you sharing this. I thought I was crazy when I could not find away to really use it.

    Dr. Wright
    The Wright Place TV Show
    http://www.wrightplacetv.com

  • http://www.barcelonaphotoblog.com carloslorenzo

    To learn from past mistakes is wise. Yes, on many an occasion we rant about so and so and the next moment we are the first in line praising it. That's human nature. You are right about not always falling for the shiny objects that fast. I am trying to come up with ideas for Google Wave but I guess is still not my train to catch although I will get on sooner or later. One thing I will not do now is to undermine its potential cause then I will have to swallow my words like has happened with Twitter in my case. Another excellent post Chris that reminds me I have to drop by often.

  • http://www.freeprintingsamples.com/ FreePrintingSamples.com

    Definitely recommend using it for project collaboration first to really “get it”…

  • http://twitter.com/askmanny Manny Hernandez

    Love your post, Chris! We have found Google Wave to be extremely useful for synchronous content co-creation. Hopefully, Wave will soon “talk” to Gmail and Gtalk, to round up the experience a bit better!

  • olegshilovitsky

    Some ideas how to improve Wave and what is missed – http://plmtwine.com/2010/01/11/collaboration-tr…. Best, Oleg

  • http://thejeffbrown.me Jeff Brown

    I skimmed the comments and didn't see any mention of Gina Trapani's The Complete Guide to Google Wave (http://completewaveguide.com). Sorry if I missed it being mentioned already, but I highly recommend this resource to anyone looking to make the most of Google Wave.

    I hope it helps Chris.

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  • http://www.r4-ds-kort.dk/ buy r4 dsi

    Hi,
    Despite the hype, Google Wave is unlikely to emerge as the best-available collaboration 2.0 platform on the market. It also will most likely appeal to consumers, at least initially. Yet Google Wave should be considered a potential first step in the ubiquitous adoption of collaboration 2.0 in general,with consumer adoption acting as the impetus for enterprise usage.

  • http://www.zoombits.de/speicherkarten/sd-karte/transcend-4gb-sdhc-speicherkarte-(klasse-2)/17835 cheap 4gb sd speicherkarte

    I received a Google Wave invite so now I'm set up and ready to play around w/ it more. I'm wondering–what's the benefit of using Google Wave vs just collaborating over Google Docs (especially now that Google Docs allows for more file types)? Anyone trying it out that can enlighten me?Normally I’m all over anything Google, but when I couldn’t teach my 21 year old best friend how to use it, it sort of became useless.

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  • faberdave

    I have an HTC Touch Pro (Telus in Canada)… I like it.. if you do get a windows mobile phone and are on twitter… check out Twikini…. http://www.trinketsoftware.com/Twikini/ – full disclosure… no affilliation at all. It is a really great app.

  • http://beaconhillnw.com Jim Gray

    Chris:after thinking through your examples, i could see how i could use it(as long as the other parties buy-in) for writing projects and other long-term projects.

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