On Google Wave

I think I’m starting to get it. I’ve used it a couple of times but not for any other reason than to play with it, but now I have an actual need for a place to collaborate with a group of geographically displaced people, the ISTC Community website, it’s starting to make sense.

And I’m not the only person that thinks Google Wave is best suited to this kind of collaboration.

I’ve realised that what Google have done is take the best bits from a couple of different communication channels, combine them and add a couple of improvements.

Those channels are email and Wiki, with a hint of instant messaging thrown in for good measure.

The easiest comparison is to email, with threaded conversations the main thrust of a Wave, but as you can edit and ‘interrupt’ any part of an existing message, with that edit viewable to everyone else on the wave, soon you begin to realise that it’s more like a message based Wiki.

The ability to see new messages in real-time adds in a type of instant messaging but I think the value stands in the staggered, traceable, timelined edits of messages. For a collaborative, group project workspace this is wonderful.

I’m still learning Google Wave and as it’s still being developed there are a few quirks and annoyances to be overcome but despite those, so far, they are far outweighed by the benefits.

There are other use cases of Google Wave in action, and if you are interested, I do have a small number of invites left.


  1. Thanks Gordon, it’s really interesting to hear that G’Wave actually works for specific use cases. I’ve kind of given up on it. Would you be able to show a kind of timeline of screenshots (without violating any privacy) of how you guys are using it?

  2. Hi Gordon,

    I use it for gathering specs, user interface discussions and peer reviews.

    The problem I have with Wave is not the tool – but people’s reluctance to embrace it.

    ‘Why change?’
    ‘What’s wrong with the way we always do it?’

    For some, it’s too complex, others like their current setup, and others don’t like it because you found it first… so they won’t play ball. That the way it goes.

    Google has also added BUZZ to Gmail, i.e. integrated Google Reader to your Gmail. Pretty slick

    And, blatant self-promotion…

    Using Google Wave to Write Technical Documents


    we look at six different ways to do this.


  3. Whilst there are bugs and irritations in how the interface works, it certainly has potential for collaboration.

    I think that the biggest risk is of waves becoming too long, with many levels of nested comments, so that it’s hard to glean pertinent information. That perhaps implies the need for someone “in charge” of a wave, to split wave it before that happens, which is not quite in the egalitarian spirit of the tool.

    Overall, I’m enjoying trying Wave, but am not yet convinced that it’s better than a wiki.

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