… and all I got was a mutual agreement to abandon using Google Wave halfway through. But at least I realized some of the strengths and weaknesses of this new and hyped collaborative tool.
Our three-person team collaborated on a holiday video project where various students — individually and in groups — sang lines from our alma mater. As concept/director/talent wrangler, I had a place to post an updated schedule of shoots and ask for thoughts when shoots didn’t pan out for technical or logistical reasons.
Our cameraman/first editor could post various takes and we could collectively decide which was the best. I had most talent sing more than one line of the alma mater so that we had backups for most parts, though the idea was to build from solo to larger groups while showcasing the campus and our students.
The ability to refer to various production elements worked very well, as did the opportunity to brainstorm and discuss in real time. So why did we abandon the wave halfway through? Because of weaknesses others who try to use it tend to cite:
1) Lack of notifications. It was quite possible someone would reply to one of my questions, or that the other two collaborators were having an important conversation, but I may not know unless they contacted me another way. Yes, I know there are plugins and the like that can enable notifications, but if Google Wave is all that and a bag of chips, shouldn’t it come standard?
2) Lack of anchoring. When I revisit any wave, I find myself arbitrarily plopped in the middle of the conversation, not where I last read. If Plastic.com figured out nearly a decade ago how to anchor so you could resume where you last read a discussion, you’d think the leviathan that is Google could have built it in too. The lack of anchoring particularly confuses when combined with …
3) Lack of adequate marking. For some larger waves, I can read the whole conversation and it will remain bolded in my list of waves. So unless you’re memorizing time stamps you don’t always know which waves have new comments. Worse is that once you hit a new day, waves are marked only by date and not by time. Our team works late and often has discussions after 11 p.m., but if I last looked at a wave at 10 p.m. Dec. 9, when I’m on Google Wave the next day, that wave is only marked Dec. 9, no time. And since even waves I’ve read are bolded, the lack of adequate marking means I rush back to check waves that are not updated.
But I come to neither bury Google Wave nor to praise it, but to merely provide a status report in its beta existence. Like Thursday’s child, the Wave has far to go. The ability to collaborate in real time while incorporating all kinds of media and documents points to a bright future. But the development team — and I’m sure it’s a large one — has a lot of work to do until it reaches a user-friendly level.
PS: I forgot! Here is the finished video project!