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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Google Wave Explained?

The following from Lifehacker ‘explains’ why the author loved Google Wave:

I loved Wave's ambition. From a purely technical perspective, Wave pushed the edge of what was possible in a browser; it promised a new federated communication system; it's open source and uses an open protocol; it's a platform that developers could customize and extend with gadgets and robots. From a user perspective, it had the guts to try to introduce a whole new paradigm of communication, one that combined document collaboration and messaging into a single interface. It demonstrated real-time collaboration in a browser the way no other webapp had yet. It made group discussions/brainstorming/decisions much, much easier.

I don’t want to sound like a dummy (who does?) but this does not help explain Wave. Too many generalities impede my ability to see how the app could help me specifically. Look at the language:

  1. “I loved Wave’s ambition”. The author provides a vague indication that Wave offered new ideas. Users wants results not ambition. Next sentence.
  2. “Wave pushed the edge of what was possible in a browser.” Ditto, but at least the reader knows that Wave is browser-related.
  3. “It promised a new federated communication system.” More ditto. Okay, it is a collaborative tool, but how does it differ from, say, Google Docs?
  4. “it’s open source…” This speaks to how Wave was created and how it can be improved and changed, but does not describe its function.
  5. “it had the guts to try to introduce a whole new paradigm of communication. Still more ditto, and still not backed up. User don’t want try, they want can. This basically repeats #2 and #3. No specifics yet.
  6. “combined document collaboration and messaging into a single interface”. This is getting somewhere but still says little how it differs from other collaboration tools.

I won’t go on. I infer that Wave is snazzy, but beyond that, little resounds for me. An underlying problem reveals itself here. Excitement attached to generalities is hype.

If the author, or Google, put more emphasis on actual use cases, Wave would have a much better chance of surviving. Give us potential users something to latch onto beyond ‘innovative’.

I offer Evernote as an example of a company that gets the message across. Evernote  constantly provides tips on how to use the application, offering loads of specific uses. For instance, take a picture of a business card with your smartphone, save it to Evernote with a tag, and later collect the info in your address book. There is a clear use of the application.

With Wave, the emphasis stuck on the blurry concept of innovation. Google failed to reveal the tool itself in any useful and functional way. So Wave is now no more.

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