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Google Wave first impressions

Wave - e-mail for the 21st century, or something

Wave - e-mail for the 21st century, or something

As part of my duty as the self-appointed new software guinea pig for college media, I was able to finagle an invitation to Google Wave from Andrew Spittle, one of the CoPress team (@andrewspittle on Twitter) and check out this “revolutionary” tool. There were a couple of sessions at the National College Media Convention about Wave, but I was presenting during those times, so I missed them.

Anyway, I’ve been using Wave for about half a day now, and I’m a little underwhelmed. For a good overview of some of the potential of Wave, this ReadWriteWeb review is a pretty good introduction. I won’t go into all the boring details, except to say that it takes some getting used to, and I’m not exactly collaborating on anything right now, so most of the uses are lost on me at the moment.

I can, however, see potential for the software as a collaboration tool on stories and projects. I’ve been a big proponent of using Google Docs to share documents between writers and editors, and this seems to take that to another level.

But at the moment, the nomenclature (Robots, Extensions and Gadgets) is confusing, and figuring out how to get those Robots and Gadgets to work in a Wave is frustrating.

Wave doesn’t easily interact with other services like Twitter or even gmail or Google Reader (at least that I could figure out so far – I’ll be messing with this program for a few days, at least, so I’ll update if it becomes easier or I bump my head and get enlightened). If Wave were a place where I could see my traditional e-mail and Google Reader items, along with the real-time collaboration tools, I could see it as a perfect landing spot. Perhaps that’s the eventual goal, and I’m sure there are probably tools that will add those features. But it’s still early in the development.

I guess I’m so used to the ease-of-use of gmail and the reader that I forgot how confusing a new paradigm could be (although I remember Orkut, another Google product that was difficult to understand and use when it first came out).

My advice for college journalists is to try to get some invites and experiment with Wave as a newsroom collaboration tool. But be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours poking around to figure it out.