First impressions on Google Wave

So after a tormenting 24 hours without a wave account I finally got my invite last evening (Thanks @blamborn and Mat). So I figured I’d chronicle my first day’s adventures and add to the wave conversation on the intertubes, especially since just the day before I had blogged about what I thought Wave was about. I have a few friends on Wave already so it wasnt a complete case of the empty room syndrome, but my impressions might change once my contact list there reaches any critical mass.

First off: the interface. Quite a few people have talked about Wave looks pretty, (it even has drop shadows and rounded corners), but quite frankly, they are a waste of space here and actually hurt the UI. The gap between the modules is way too much (separator bars should be much thinner), and rounded corners dont really allow modules to butt up against each other too close. I have no idea whats going on with the smart scrollbar on the right hand side of the message window and why it only scroll to a fraction of the size of the main document. Besides that is okay, definitely not as minimalistic as Google has a reputation for.

My first couple of Waves were to myself, I added a couple of robots from the Robots gallery, but most of them didnt work for me. The idea of such extensions is interesting though this is pretty much the same as Yahoo Mail Apps or Zimbra mail or Yahoo Messenger plugins. Not really a new idea or that revolutionary.

I started a wave with Mat and another friend Nick and started working on a cheatsheet for Freemarker, a templating language for Java that we use at Comcast Interactive Media. Here it got kinda interesting, but the formatting options were a far cry from google docs (but thats okay considering the early beta stage here). What was really crazy was that people were adding to the content by “replying” to the original message. What I really thought we should have been doing was adding to the main document which is editable at any time. What this made me realize that there is indeed a difference between a conversation around a document and the document itself. Wave blurs the difference which makes you think a lot more on what should go where.

Nick later discovered the with:public search on wave that just showed all public waves, some with a lot of live editing going on. Cool! … or wait, isnt this what Yahoo chat was (I used to be a fair addict to Y!Chat in my teens). Heck, even the waves sounded like chat rooms: “Utah Wave Users”, “JQuery Users Wave”, etc.So I tried going into a couple of *rooms* and they were pretty chaotic. A few of the wave starters were trying to maintain some order in there (“please dont append to this part”, “please start new waves for smaller topics”, etc). Yeah I left pretty quick.

So here are my thoughts:

  • The idea of a blended medium is interesting but communication is indeed of differnt types: conversations, collaboration on a document, announcements do need different visual cues even if not different applications. For example, could a wave be *marked* as a conversation (chat or email) and then it could force a temporally sorted exchange or marking it as a document could force all conversations/comments on a sidebar.
  • The idea of robots appending content to a messages is powerful. I can imagine quite a few uses for it (you know, like bots do on IRC)
  • Gadgets on Google Wave could be awesome
  • Google Wave will definitely have an app store in the near future
  • Wave definitely needs an SMTP gateway asap that translates email to a “dumb-wave” or a conversation wave as I mentioned in the first point here.
  • I think a good use case for it is for a personal notebook. I use Evernote right now to jot down thoughts etc, but Wave could be a pretty awesome note taker that I could occasionally share a note from

So what do you think. Do you like it? Think it’ll be the future of email? (my opinion, not the current version but something it morphs to)

Author: Arpit Mathur

Arpit Mathur is a Principal Engineer at Comcast Labs where he is currently working on a variety of topics including Machine Learning, Affective Computing, and Blockchain applications. Arpit has also worked extensively on Android and iOS applications, Virtual Reality apps as well as with web technologies like JavaScript, HTML and Ruby on Rails. He also spent a couple of years in the User Experience team as a Creative Technologist.

9 thoughts on “First impressions on Google Wave”

  1. Google Wave seems promising a new digital interactivity and created high expectations among surfers. I like some features such as ability to reproduce the talks (playback), Translate in real time when we communicate with someone speaking another language, and it’s integration with Twitter and other social networks. Google Wave really can turn into a revolution in social conversation!


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