I logged into Wave for the first time in three days this morning and found a "wave" from someone making the same statement I just did. She said:
I know! That's what's "un-useful" about it - I always forget to check mine to so I just revert back to Twitter and email - you know - those "oh so out of date" tools! ;-)
I don't get it. I remember when Gmail was "by invitation only", and now every one has Gmail and I use it as my default webmail. I've pimped my Google home page with a customized theme and all manner of gadgets I use to keep track of my social networking. Google has me hooked as far as that part goes, so what's the problem with me extending my "addiction" to Wave?
The question that seems to come up from the people I do use Wave with is "what am I supposed to use this thing for?" I managed to add about a dozen people to my Wave address book, but conversations have stalled. I've started following a few public Waves to see if I could join in on a conversation, but they're hard to follow. Nothing seems linear. When a new contribution has been made to a Wave, it isn't at the top or bottom of the stream as you'd expect (as in a "conversation" in Gmail, for instance), nor does the Wave automatically focus on the new addition.
I think part of the problem is in trying to find information to make practical use of Wave. For instance, in attempting to do the research for this blog, I did some Google searches (what else?), but searching for "why hasn't Google Wave gone viral" doesn't yield a great deal of useful data. I managed to locate the article Why We Are Cautious About Google's Wave, but frankly, it didn't do much to answer my question. It was written soon after Wave was first introduced, so the information has "aged" somewhat (at least in Internet time).
Next, I tried searching Wave itself. I figured if anyone would be talking about the use of Wave, or lack thereof, it would be Wave users. Am I wrong? Facing the Wave UI, I realized I'd forgotten how to search for public Waves. A little Googling later, I found The First Google Wave Search You Must Know and with a mere
with:public, pulled up an endless list of public Waves. Gee, how unique. Now how do I find the one I want? I don't want to read a book and I don't want to scan a 14 page web guide. Like most people in our Microwave oven, Google search engine, instant gratification world, I want to ask a quick question and get a quick answer.
I don't remember having this sort of problem getting on board with twitter, and realistically speaking, I haven't been using twitter all that long. Sure, Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein wrote The Twitter Book, but I didn't use it to "learn twitter" (it actually wasn't a really great book, and I ended up donating it to my local public library after reviewing it). When I needed to know something about twitter, I either asked another twitter person or Googled it. I usually found the little tidbit I needed (who has time to read a whole "dissertation" like this blog?) and away I went.
I have an interest in Microsoft's SharePoint platform (don't ask...it's a long story), and am following a few public Waves on the topic. This is a frequently asked question: "Is Wave a SharePoint killer?" and the general consensus is "no" (despite Om Malik's prediction in his previously mentioned blog). Sure, Wave is extendable with just oodles of APIs, but in what direction does one "extend" Wave to make it usable and (dare I say it) intuitive? Why does it seem so hard to use Wave?
It occurred to me that either Google never intended Wave to be particularly useful to the average end user crowd, or they initially targeted the wrong audience. Speaking of SharePoint, I find myself wondering if Wave is intended (or should be intended) for the business, rather than the general public space? Everything else is going into the cloud, why not enterprise collaboration? This seems to be the thought of David Cook at The Shiny Wave blogspot. Perhaps my failure to launch, relative to Wave, is due to my being the wrong person to use it, or at least my using Wave in the wrong context.
Of course, I've tried Delicious, Friendfeed, Plaxo, Plurk, and other online social apps and promptly walked away, not feeling "the hook" sink deeply into my flesh, so maybe Wave is just another passing fancy that didn't take hold in my life. Then again, I didn't bother to review any of those apps and or dedicate two (so far) blog articles to them, so Wave must have made some sort of impression on me.
It can't be lack of information. Doing a general search on Google Wave produces a ton of results, including guides at Mashable and Lifehacker, so quality tech affectionados feel Google Wave is worth spending time and resources on. On the other hand, getting a specific piece of information seems excessively difficult, such as how to find a specific public Wave discussing why Wave hasn't "gone viral", so is that it? What's the problem? Is it Wave or (gulp) is it me?
Afterword: I just added a public wave: "Why Hasn't Google Wave Gone Viral" and made it accessible to everyone (Thanks for the tip, Google). Let the games begin.