Choicelessness

Wave.wav

Posted in technology, web, work by johnsnavely on November 20, 2009

I wanted to write a blog post on Google Wave from within Wave and then publish it straight from wave neatly to my blog (as promised in the tutorial video). But this didn’t happen. So instead I just cut and paste what I sloppily wrote from wave here. Boo! On the wave were a number of coworkers who are interested in social media. But I’ve cut out their comments because there weren’t many and to protect their privacy.

Here’s my very random thoughts on Google Wave after only using for short period of time

First let’s get the ugly out of the way.

The UI is pretty awful… not just in terms of looks, but pieces of it actually don’t function correctly. (scrollbars I’m looking at you) This is pre-pre-alpha stuff… needing frequent browser refreshes after many crashes. That said, it’s getting better every week. And features show up daily. For example, a few days ago in-line commenting appeared. It crashes wave, but it’s there. Note to Google: I want an “undo” please.

Now here’s what’s nice about Wave.

I was invited to Wave by my bud T (of course). My first conversation on Wave was just asking him how to use this. The first little bit of awesome in this interaction was watching someone type. When you communicate “synchronously”, you move faster. There’s no waiting, and there’s no lag, which means I stop trying to multitask outside of wave. Seriously, I want my IM program to have a mode where I can talk this way.

After a short chat with T, we started talking about old projects so he created another wave and started writing a document that listed out our various potential projects and had a short description of each. In places he called upon me to fill in information, which I did by editing his post. Meanwhile, we had several concurrent conversations about whether other ideas qualified as projects. We also thought about inviting another participant who neither knew personally, but who we thought might have some expertise. So I started another Wave added T and the twitter bot, then we tweeted the friend and asked them for their wave ID. After a short dialog on twitter, (which should have been  conducted through wave, but becuase the twitter bot doesn’t have some basic features), we brought our internet friend into the wave and kept talking. All of these things were happening simultaneously and we were all working in a very fluid multichannel way. Wave as a sort of light weight wiki that enables chatting and document editing in one place works really great.

I really like the idea of the bots in Wave. They have a lot of potential. I see them as ways to aggregate all of my conversations into Wave. For example, all the convo’s happening on Twitter, Facebook,gReader comments, on blogs, and of course, on Wave should be seamlessly accessible inside and outside wave. This is why, even though it works like crap, the feature that I’m most excited about is the Wave to Blog bot. This bot can take a Wave and turn it into a blog with comments and vice versa; any comments on the blog appear in the wave. The commenting/conversation absence was one of my major problems with gReader; potentially, Wave could fix this issue. Right now, however, a lot of them are hollow shells of usefulness.

The other potential of Wave as an aggregator is an ability to unify content across social networks. I’d really like to move some of the stuff that I check in Reader daily (because the network I’ve cultivated there is producing content I can use) over to wave in order to talk about it with people outside of that network. Delicious is the example I’m thinking of….

Of course, since I work for Microsoft I was wondering what our company would make that’s similar to this. In some ways it is actually similar Outlook in terms of the way it uses panes and attempts to have some continuity between messenging and phone (Google Voice is going to be supported, right?)  But if I tried to imagine the above scenario with T and chl in Outlook… it just wouldn’t happen. Nor would a lot of the communication that I do in outlook translate over the Wave very well.

However, the closest piece of Microsoft software that I could imagine using for a similar collaboration is OneNote. In some ways, Wave is like OneNote without the tabbed navigation (which I don’t like very much anyway), but with a paned communication UI on top of it. (Aside, one of the bots for Wave is a whiteboard app, adding to the OneNote smell.) I wonder what a version of OneNote created specifically for the web might look like. Courier, maybe?

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5 Responses

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  1. jason said, on November 20, 2009 at 3:48 am

    my buddy ICQ is calling from 1995, and he says he had see-as-you-type over a decade ago. it was weird then, and it is weird now, but it is growing on me.

  2. johnsnavely said, on November 20, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Time for you to write an ICQ iphone chat app, yo. 🙂

  3. son1 said, on December 1, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I need to get back to that projects document — I’ve been swamped with Thanksgiving and sickness and a progress report to a funder (due today!) but … soon, soon.

  4. son1 said, on December 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Snaves, can you talk a little bit about how to “export” a Wave? You mentioned this in person in Boston, but I can’t see (am I missing it, somehow? reading over it?) where you talked about it here on teh blog…

    • johnsnavely said, on December 15, 2009 at 12:45 am

      Hey Man,

      The quotes around “export” are very necessary since none of it works very well.
      To embed waves in blogs you could use Embeddy or Bloggy.

      I tried using a bunch of them, including the blog_bot and blog wave, and the Posterous bot. There’s also a wordpress to wave bot kickin’ around someplace… but it only works on the sandboxed version of Wave, not the preview.

      Like the twitter bot, none of them worked well at all. I expect them to get better.

      The idea (at least for me) is that when you export a wave to these other formats, all the comments on that blog post are now available on Wave. And vice versa. The same with Twitter. The same with facebook walls/events. Etc. etc.


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