Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Oh what a clever pun. *cough*

Okay, so I got my Google Wave invite on Sunday, but didn't log in until this morning. Now that I've been on it for all of three hours, I can appreciate its usefulness, but I'm not overawed.

My initial perceptions are that it has two primary uses:

1. Collaboration. It's stated goal. Yeah, I think it's going to kick ass over a wiki (which I've never really gotten on board with) or slow collaboration like Google Documents. I can very easily imagine using this platform to collaborate on projects or conference presentations. It could be a fabulous back of house, exhibit and programming planning tool at larger, more wired institutions. It could be an awesome community outreach tool for the right institution with a very wired and motivated community to reach out to.

2 (a distant). Breaking news. Like twitter, but maybe more manageable? The recent Seattle manhunt offers an example. Not a huge use, but when it's important, it could be huge.

I don't know what I was expecting when I opened it up this morning. My first reaction was confusion. Then I watched some videos and visited the help pages to learn how to find public waves. The waves I searched for? Knitting and Museums. Because that's how I roll. So I saw what they looked like and ran in terror. Seems like a public wave really needs a strong structure/purpose to make it work. Folks need a goal, otherwise it's just a (slow) chat room.

Wave is not easily browse-able. It doesn't seem to be something you use casually. You need pre-existing contacts to wave with, if you want to stay out of the public wave fray.

One application I would like to use a wave type structure for is programming ideas. My museum is currently seeking wide input about our next round of programming. Our current platform is a Facebook discussion, which is not very well structured. A wave would be much, well, cooler and more effective. But the beta-type nature of the product, as well as the "new barrier" of it forbids that. And I'm unclear if waves embedded in blogs will allow non-wavers to contribute.

So this is my initial impression: Wave is super neat for collaboration among pre-existing communities, but won't be great for casual outreach for museums. Not that Wave ever claimed to be that. Subject to change, your mileage may vary. Because I've discovered that I'm not really an early adopter of these sorts of things. It took me a long time to get into the Twitter thing, and I held out from Facebook for years. If you love it, convert me. Why should I love it?