Catching the Wave

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I am something of a Google Zealot, I was using the search engine back before many people knew what it was and haven’t strayed since. I’ve been using GMail for the better part of two years, and it handles ALL of my incoming mail, I even forward all of the emails from my self hosted domains to it. I use Google Docs for everything, including writing and storing invoices for my consulting work and any of my other “office” needs. And I use Google Voice daily for business phone calls. We used Google Maps to find and track rental homes, and it helped us find the place we’re living in now. Google Analytics keeps a finger on the pulse of the (itty bitty) traffic on this site. Google Reader is my RSS reader of choice, which I use almost strictly through a gadget on my iGoogle homepage along with tgadget for Twitter. I sync my iPhone with Google Calendar, and wouldn’t know what I’m doing any particular day without it. You get the idea. :–)

So you can imagine that when I heard about Google Wave, I instantly signed up to receive an early invite. And as you can probably also imagine, I was super disappointed when the first set of invites went out to the public, and I didn’t get mine! I watched as many of the people I follow on Twitter announced that they’d received their invite, and were happily getting started with Google Wave. Of course, many of them were reporting serious usability issues and disappointments but I was never-the-less anxious to get my peek at it. After a few short weeks I managed to trade a Google Voice invite for a Google Wave invite.

Now getting the wave invite was… Interesting.. Evidently when a user is granted some discretionary invitations they aren’t sent out immediately when used. Instead a user “nominates” a person to receive a Google Wave account. Apparently there is some waiting involved, and I suspect some manual human intervention on the part of Google in order to actually send the concrete invitation. After waiting four days (two of which were the weekend) I actually received the email that my invitation had arrived!

My initial interaction with Wave was reasonably short. I watched a couple of the introduction videos, make a few setting changes to my profile, added a couple of people who I knew were on Wave, and logged out. My first real Wave was from an acquaintance of mine from Twitter who had also recently gotten Wave. We both admitted that we were excited to have the new tool, but really had very little idea of what it was really intended for!

After having a couple interactions with a few others later that day, I started to get a feel for the interface and the power of the tool. See, I’m currently working on a software project which is reasonably large in scope. The nature of the company I work for means that we didn’t have the time, money, or expertise to hire a big enough development team to accomplish the software solution we’re trying to build. So, we’re managing with myself as the lead architect, a business analyst who knows what this thing is supposed to do, and a project manager on our side. Then we’re having all of the development work done by an offshore team.

Very quickly it struck me that Wave lends itself VERY well to this sort of thing, and in fact I think real-time collaboration for creative/design purposes is exactly what this tool is designed for. In many of the sessions of collaboration that we’ve had over the phone, having a parallel wave would be invaluable! Imagine an integration with Google Docs, I can create a wordpressing doc, a presentation, or a spreadsheet and simply attach it to the wave. Or I can take a screenshot and toss it in there where it is appropriate. Everyone has visibility to the results. This thing is DESIGNED for agile, if you ask me.

That said, this is still a very early version. In all of the “buzz” about Wave it was claimed that it will contact you in any way that is appropriate. If you’re at your computer, and logged into Wave, you’d get the real-time view. Not logged in? That’s okay we’ll nag you by email. Not at a computer? Easy you’ll get an SMS message. None of that functionality seems to be there yet though, as there is no place to supply my email address (you’re supplied with an address which you can’t access), or my phone number (should already know my Google Voice number). And there is the matter of stability. It certainly has some kinks to be worked out.

So, now that I’ve caught the Wave, I’m looking forward to really starting to use it to my advantage and riding along to see how the tool evolves. Isn’t it fun being an early adopter?