Not waving.
December 5, 2009 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Google Wave. Is there anyone here who is using this regularly who can explain to me why I should too?

Got an invite a month or two ago. Unlike other google apps which quickly felt indispensable (gmail, Picasa, maps, scholar, calendar, books, etc.) I'm a to how this is going to make my life cooler, practically speaking. (I'm sure it doesn't help that, due to how limited invites have been, I don't have more than a handful of folks to "wave" with anyway.)

If you've been using this application on a daily or weekly basis, what are you doing with it? What should I be doing with it?
posted by availablelight to Computers & Internet (39 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
It is quite unstable at this point and no one that I know of is using it on daily, or even weekly basis.
It is a useful tool for those who work in teams and need to collaborate with others on regular basis.

What should I be doing with it?

That's hard to answer. It might be a while before Wave finds a place in everyone's life.

FWIW, I find this site to be a good starting point for wave.
posted by Danniman at 6:55 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm in grad school, and my fellow students and I will be using Google Wave to collaborate on compiling notes and studying for our preliminary exams next spring.

We've only just started playing with Wave, but I think it will be very helpful. Our previous study strategy involved a lot of emailing various documents around as people take notes on different handfuls of papers, and it was an unholy mess. I have no guarantees that Google Wave will not also result in an unholy mess, but right now, editing/commenting on a single shared document online looks a whole lot better than what we've been doing.

I agree with your sentiment to a point - I realize that we could have done all the same sharing in Google Docs or anything else where a file was hosted online. I think one of the benefits I see coming out of Google Wave is that we'll be able to use it both to edit/add to the compiled notes and hold a conversation about them in the same place, through the threaded comments.

But we haven't put it to the test yet, so I could just be having dreams of grandeur.
posted by pemberkins at 6:57 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's great for communal editing, the best case of which, in my experience, has been for code. I was having problems with a snippet and was able to work it out with a colleague remotely, in real time.

The fact that we could both live type at the same time made it dead easy to pinpoint where the problems were in a way that would have been almost impossible with static, ping-ponged, cut and paste segments (no it looks like this when it should look like this gets tiresome when you're looking at dozens of lines for subtle differences).

Also the fact that we could both thread along in a normal fashion, or drill down in nested fashion to rehash a specific points was handy. I've never experienced a tool better suited for it, and look forward to an excuse to use it again.

/me goes and writes some shitty code...
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:57 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I used it for an interesting collaborative discussion once, and it was pretty nice for that -- it was for fun, though, not for work, and we were basically just goofing around and debating something in a virtual space instead of goofing around and debating that topic in a physical space. It was kind of like a chat room but with more flexibility.

It still had a lot of the same drawbacks as regular chat, though -- once something was off the screen in the chat window, you could keep adding to it, but how many people were scrolling up and down to see if anything new was added to parts of the previous discussion? (Hint: no one.) I think that it requires a new way of thinking and using that is different from chat or email, but our habits in those other forms are so ingrained that it may end up just not being much different, even though it has the potential to be.

Anyhow, I'd recommend it for fun chats with friends, especially if you're a geographically disparate group. It was fun to bolster our claims using links and images and stuff (something that is not as easy to do in the physical world unless everyone has a mobile phone with Internet access or their laptop handy, and even then it isn't as fast or as flexible). I imagine that it would also be pretty handy for group projects, especially for the initial talking-it-out and finding your footing part.
posted by k8lin at 7:02 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Me and my friends mannly use it when we are working on a project. It is really nice because when using google wave, we don't have to send e-mails back and forth that usually get scattered around and it is just easier to keep track of stuff. I think of it as real time chat that you can save with attachments.
posted by kuju at 7:08 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have looked around it and I know I'm having a hard time seeing what the average, casual user would get from it. Business collaboration looks promising and hosting RPG's (now there's two disparate subjects!) but as far as your average Joe, not sure yet.
posted by CwgrlUp at 7:19 PM on December 5, 2009

My main problem is that it's completely counterintuitive. I can understand the collaboration purpose, but it's so clunky.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:20 PM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

My man and I use it to be complete nerds and avoid talking to each other from across the there's that!

If you have anyone who you regularly chat with and send attachments to, you can substitute wave for the sometimes awkward chat-ok I'll send you the link-where are we meeting-email me a picture-etc.

I hate that it doesn't have gmail notifications though...or does it?
posted by kathrineg at 7:25 PM on December 5, 2009

A friend who teaches a University class in the spring is using it as his class website (instead of Blackboard).
posted by radioamy at 7:28 PM on December 5, 2009

My friends and I used it to coordinate our plan of attack for the East Austin Studio tour - using the map gadget to pinpoint what studios we wanted to go to/what routes we would take, when we were free, etc.

Also used it to keep track of Thanksgiving foods the SO and I wanted to make - which ingredients we already had (we live separately) vs what we needed to buy, when we would do what. It was easier than email, because we could just go through and highlight/change what we needed after any shopping trip/pantry check.

Other than that, I generally use it as a polling/opinion app - I asked my guy friends if they peed in the sink ... what I should name my accordion ... what new music I should be listening to, just random stuff I want opinions on.

And general chat roomy type conversations, but those aren't very exciting :-/
posted by theRussian at 7:38 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I didn't understand its purpose in my life until I started to use it to dump all my information related to the house purchase I'm doing now. Then it became immediately apparent that Wave's purpose (for this task at least) is to be the one centralized location where my information (of all types, links, text, pictures, email results, call logs, phone numbers, etc) is stored and accessible from, in a format which is easy to edit/share/understand. Immediately I can add another person such as my spouse, and now he can see all my written thoughts and add his own comments, share his side of the story. Now we are able to carry on the general house conversation and planning even if I'm at work and he's at home, etc.

I can easily see myself setting up a gardening wave to keep track of what items I grow in each garden spot each year. Or a wave to keep all of my animal information, then if I add my vet, he can know when I take new measurements or see if I write that one animal is acting different etc. I could even post a video and he could post his comments about his thoughts re diagnosis...
posted by Meagan at 7:57 PM on December 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

From my admittedly meager experience with it, it feels like if Groove had fewer features.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:15 PM on December 5, 2009

I dumped a proposal I wrote into it. It was a proposal for an event, and since there was significant interest in the event on twitter, I put the proposal in Wave and it sparked a conversation among a group about various elements. It was cool!

One of our faculty contacted me via wave because he saw I was online; we had a conversation, and the next day I went back and asked questions about things he had said that I missed. That was also kind of cool.

It's still finding it's niche.

The only way to work it out is to play with it and see how it works for you. It's actually kind of sad when something open develops a single use because that's the single use someone popularized. I like it when no one knows what to do with something.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:25 PM on December 5, 2009

I'd like to second Danniman's link, which is really quite informative. But I'd also like to second everyone's frustration as well. The first or second time I tried to use it (to help a friend edit a paper) I got so upset that I didn't just close the window but angrily signed out of Google. That'll teach them!
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:36 PM on December 5, 2009

I feel like Wave will only truly be effective if it becomes omnipresent, like Facebook. What's the point of Wave if no one uses it? Nothing. But if everyone used and relied on Wave -- much like email -- it would be more valuable & worthwhile than email. In short: Encourage your friends to use it as it becomes more widespread. Then it might have a point. It's cool, but it's only cool when it has users you know and have a need to interact with.
posted by elisabethjw at 8:51 PM on December 5, 2009

A friend who teaches a University class in the spring is using it as his class website (instead of Blackboard).

I really want to do this, and I hope that I can get the university to let me. My class isn't until the summer, so maybe it will have caught on enough by then. However, requiring students to use a piece of software like that may come with a whole host of complications.

I'm in grad school, and my fellow students and I will be using Google Wave to collaborate on compiling notes and studying for our preliminary exams next spring.

I wish I could convince my fellow grad students that this was a good idea, but I'm gonna keep trying until I do.

So far, I've used waves to help folks edit documents, but I haven't gotten the chance to use it beyond that. My advisor has, however, agreed that we can use it to work on a project of mine for which we need the input of another scientist who won't get to my university until the fall of next year, and I'm extremely excited about this prospect.

I think it has the potential to change science for the better the same way that email did (albeit perhaps to a lesser extent). The ability to drop graphs right into the body of the wave and to go back and edit different input or suggest changes without having to quote the original statement is awesome, and I could not be more stoked.

Since it's a product designed by the essentially omnipresent Google, I'm confident that it will only be a matter of time before it catches on.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:19 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's a better version of a multi 'event' thread of communication.

Email fails at >2 people. Someone occasionally misses a 'reply to'. Or you want to add someone into the conversation after it's started. Or you need to have a specific spreadsheet/document that needs to belong to the conversation.

Google wave allows you to contain the thread in one place (and play back for someone new to the thread) as necessary. Chat, email, documents all meshed together.
posted by filmgeek at 9:54 PM on December 5, 2009

But if everyone used and relied on Wave -- much like email -- it would be more valuable & worthwhile than email.

I agree with this. I don't get why Google didn't more to integrate Wave with Gmail, though. It seems like I should get automatic Gmail messages telling me about responses to stuff I do in Wave, at a minimum, if not a copy of threaded Wave conversations in my Gmail inbox.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:01 PM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

It doesn't make much sense, and will have to evolve pretty significantly until it has any use. Just because it says "Google" in the name doesn't mean it's going to be of any use, and the idea that people are going to foist it upon students or coworkers just because it's novel seems insane to me.
posted by anildash at 10:41 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

IMHO, the Seattle Times used it pretty successfully to disseminate information and to conduct a collaborative discussion during our most recent spate of cop killings. That was really my only experience, but it was neat to see articles, maps, etc. updated on the fly by many different people.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:11 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

A friend (who works at Google) said he didn't get it either, so I asked why he bothered sending the invite to me, he said "If it takes off, we're in". I stopped trying altogether after that.

We are waiting.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 1:17 AM on December 6, 2009

I have been trying to make some sense of it but have been unable to do so since trying it first time many weeks ago. I also have many people invited so its not like I'm not able to do anything because there aren't enough people online to use it.

- Its got chat - but is annoying when you need to scroll up and down to see each other's response.
- Its got multi user editing - which I think Google docs does a pretty decent job at.

I have been unable to see the point of this. Seems like another one of those things lame that people go gaga about just because its by Google. They are very good at most of the things but not everything that comes out is OhMyFuckingGoshItsSoCool. I remember thinking of it as the best thing ever even when it was initially debuted and had very low stability. And now they have a book out which is weird as the app itself isn't available to many people as yet.
posted by bbyboi at 2:22 AM on December 6, 2009

But if everyone used and relied on Wave -- much like email -- it would be more valuable & worthwhile than email.

One of the first things I tried after getting my invite was sending a test email to; I figured that since Google had co-opted the standard email address format, they would have included a way for my Wave inbox to accept standard emails from elsewhere.


So I'm glad I've got my invite, because it's nice to feel included in the club; but if Google really does see Wave as a universal replacement for email and IM and document sharing, they really should be making it interoperable with the protocols we already use for those things.
posted by flabdablet at 2:28 AM on December 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

It's great for private in-joke and music blog/chats.

It's probably also good for collaboratively working on document drafts, like business plan revisions etc.

It's pretty cool for planning projects, too. Let's say I'm building an amplifier - I'll dump links into the Google Wave, and the client will get to add notes and questions and stuff. Then the wave is expanded slowly, and an overview of all the chat-y / email-y stuff is in one place. Then the wave can be cleaned up and published to help other people building amps. For instance.

The main Wave features for me are the easy editing, multiuser editing and persistence.

My heuristic:
If you're using Google Docs, IRC, email or a Wiki to do something worklike, you ought to try using Wave for it.
posted by krilli at 4:44 AM on December 6, 2009

I found the article What problems does Google Wave solve? by Daniel Tenner to by very helpful in understanding the purpose of Google Wave.

Here’s what I think is the key excerpt:
In your average corporate environment . . . [p]eople work on documents, presentations, etc. They have lengthy discussions over email. Pieces of work bounce back and forth across one or multiple organisations for weeks before they’re finalised. People are brought on to the conversation late in the day. Attachments get lost. Inboxes fill up and emails bounce. It’s a major pain.

Google Wave solves problems with trying to use e-mail to edit documents in a business setting. I think it’s in direct competition with SharePoint from Microsoft.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 5:54 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd love to give Wave a shot in corporate environment, although we're still fighting what feels like an up hill battle for people to embrace Sharepoint as collaborative and a replacement for sending and resending Excel and Word docs to folks for review.

Alas, almost all of google apps are blocked through our firewall.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 7:07 AM on December 6, 2009

I haven't played with it as much as I should. Mostly because I need to be VERY proficent at it before I can teach the co-workers I need to collaborate with. My two main complaints are it doesn't work on the iPhone (which is quickly becoming my de-facto main computer) and it doesn't integrate with google calendar. I need to specify timelines and meeting dates for my projects, not just talk about them. But, like I said, I have not used it as much as I should have by this point.
posted by saucysault at 8:16 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

My suspicion that this is something that will only be really useful in corporate environments where it will be no fun to use.

100% of my google wave waves have, so far, been about how to use google wave. I tried following some public waves (put with:public in your wave search field) and was immediately plunged back into the depths of 1997: people are using the public waves like AOL chatrooms, to talk about . . . whatever. Except, instead of an intuitive interface that scrolls when something is added to it, you have to search through to look for replies. I'm not sure about the utility of combining threading with real time chatting. It seems extremely counterintuitive to me, and, on multiple occasions, my inbox has lit up and I haven't been able to find where the new message was.

If you're using googledocs a lot, I'd actually suggest dropbox as a replacement, even for collaborative documents. You can't see people type, sure, but then . . . who cares?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:52 AM on December 6, 2009

It seems only useful for people who need to collaborate with groups in an online environment.. for users who just email or IM with their friends or family, it seems to be lacking usefulness. I think the great flaw that google has made with it is how they've positioned it.. their claim was that it was supposed to be "modern email" or a "replacement for email" or something like that, so everyone who uses email goes "huh, well that sounds cool, and google's doing it, and i love gmail so let's go take a look". And then they get into wave, take a look around, can't email anyone who's not on it, can't receive regular emails, and are generally baffled. Then they write AskMe's like this. (not snark -- I thought the exact same thing when I first got onto wave, and have received multiple emails asking me what the hell it is supposed to be).

Google should have positioned it as a "replacement for wikis!" or "better online collaboration tools!", not "reinventing email".
posted by modernnomad at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2009

I think it really depends on if you have a use/need for it.

When I first got my invite I was trying to use it as a chat replacement because the real time typing is SO awesome.
But, it's way too clunky and boxy to be a good chat program (although there's an add-on I've run into that lets you put a chat box into your wave for some linear instant messaging--but typing isn't real time).

My job position doesn't really require much in the way of collaboration so that was out.

It turns out that I mainly use Google Wave for my social life.

I've planned a last-minute surprise birthday party with a few friends. Compiling a guest list was super easy--any of the planners was able to edit and add to the guest list as well as mark a guest who had been contacted and who had RSVP'd.

I planned a Halloween party with a group of people and we used it to vote on a location, organize who would bring what, and the guest list.

I used it to put together an itinerary for a trip to San Francisco with 2 friends. We were able to schedule out our days as well as pull up maps to see locations of the places we wanted to visit and figure out public transportation.

Recently, a friend and I have been using it as a collaborative weight loss 'journal' of sorts. We use it to track the exercise activity we do each day, our daily calorie intake, and our weight.

Currently I'm trying to use it with family members to plan our annual Christmas party and Secret Santa exchange.

Overall, I probably could have used e-mail and chat to do much of this. But, the main difference is that it would not be so clean, organized, and easy to read.
Instead I would be scrolling through pages and pages of replies and if any of the collaborators wasn't using gmail I would be scrolling through replies of replies of replies. I imagine lots of copy/pasting, tangents, and multiple instances of restating items and lists.
posted by simplethings at 9:01 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's not a reinvention of email. I see it as a reinvention of what we thought we needed email for. It's the kind of thing that could be incredibly useful if everyone had it.
posted by Area Control at 9:04 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Meagan's home projects-oriented take is the best use I can guess for it too, if you're not doing collaborative projects at work or whatever. I have waves dedicated to house maintenance projects, gardening, cooking info, one for ideas of things to do when we get bored, just stuff like that.

But I also agree with a lot of other people that it's not very intuitive to use and I hate that it's not actually a gmail-relatable address etc, so non-wavers can hit me up in one centralized "email plus other" space. I can't be arsed to remember to log in very often given it's not truly my email (yet?).
posted by ifjuly at 9:51 AM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Watching this video might help:
Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009
posted by clueless22 at 10:14 AM on December 6, 2009

Because it is my birthday, I created a Google Wave for this discussion!

But ... how can I share it with you? Oops, Google.

At any rate, the wave called Waving, and is tagged with public and metafilter. Any ideas for getting an link to it onto here?
posted by krilli at 12:44 AM on December 7, 2009

When source code is a single script where a version control system is overkill, I think this may be just the thing. I'm working on an interactive fiction in InForm InForm 7 and Google Docs was adding automated HTML and CSS behind the scenes which was getting in the way of the script. All I wanted was a realtime pastebin, pretty much. Each blip in a wave looks like a realtime pastebin to me.

Game design is good on a wave because it can import images and video so easily. Take for instance my idea for "Open Source, The Card Game". Various people could throw in their suggested cards and work on the Python script for showing their effects. I think somebody's working on a card-shuffling bot for Wave.

I know the roleplayers already are using a dice bot to roleplay in Wave.

I plan to switch most of my Google Docs here if it works out. Adding people to a Doc is more of a hassle than adding them to a Wave (at least, once they all have Wave accounts).

Other ideas:

Sign-up sheets for events I run at a Science Fiction Convention

Proofreading convention schedule before I make the program book
posted by Matt Arnold at 1:47 PM on December 7, 2009

iPhone Googlewave app = waveboard.
posted by filmgeek at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2009

hmmm i cant find your "wave" krilli...
posted by knockoutking at 10:37 AM on December 12, 2009

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