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Initial Reviews of Google Wave; Neat, But Noisy 336

Posted by timothy
from the here's-yer-firehose dept.
bonch writes "Reviews of Google Wave are out, and opinions are that it has potential as a development platform but is noisy to use for real-time communication. Robert Scoble calls it overhyped, claiming it's useful for little more than personal IM or small-scale project collaboration. He complains about the noisiness of tracking dozens of people chatting him at once in real-time and calls trying to use it a 'productivity killer' compared to simpler mediums like email and Twitter."
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Initial Reviews of Google Wave; Neat, but Noisy

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  • by EmotionToilet (1083453) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:01PM (#29611605)
    Maybe our children's brains will function more like this if they grow up with it, and our current way of thinking will become obsolete. That seems to be the way things go. Technologies shape the way we take in and process information, and this is a huge step forward, and this technology will be no different. I think of Google Wave as stream of conscious communication over the internet between groups of people. It seems like the next logical step in mass communication.
  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:12PM (#29611715)

    It could be seen as an intermediate point in that process, yes. Only time will tell if the neurological structure can build itself to accommodate that or not, or if there are some fundamental limitations in the structure that would require a few thousand years of evolutionary development to fix.

    I am reminded of Stranger in a Strange Land, who's protagonist was raised by aliens to learn quite a different set of abilities, and to think very differently from humans, with the same brain. Could be possible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:19PM (#29611793)

    The fear is that once your friends know you carry a cell, they expect you to answer. If you fail to answer, they'll assume you're screening the call and will leave you out of the loop on the next social engagement as a punishment for breaking the social contract (screening your friend's call is a slap in the face).

    If they don't know you have a cell phone, they'll treat you the same old way through the old/slow communication channels. I got away with that for a week until they realized I had a phone.

    p.s. I almost completely missed out on the "texting" fad amongst my friends. They kept giving me shit about not having a cell phone because they wanted to be able to text me instead of call or email. I refused to get a phone for years, and then within the first month after I bought a disposable cell phone they all dumped their old texting phones and got smartphones. Now they refuse to use text and only want to use email. Well now I can just throw away the cell and continue using email the same old way. Wheee... (one has to wonder if my decision to get a phone is what prompted them to get smartphones -- maybe they felt compelled to maintain the same differential in social status).

  • by dave562 (969951) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:20PM (#29611803) Journal

    There was an article here a day or two ago with one of the lead developers of Wave. He mentioned the subject of "robots" that monitor the conversation stream. I'll admit to failing to RTFA in both cases, but it seems like Wave is intended as a low level foundation to build upon. The analogy that comes to mind is the data bus in the computer. If you try to use a computer by monitoring the 0s and 1s flying between the CPU and the RAM or the disk subsystem you won't get anywhere fast. On the other hand, if you leave that low level hardware interaction to the drivers and use a software application, the computer becomes useful.

    It seems to me, and again I didn't RTFA, that Wave will only be useful when people start writing decent robots and applications to sit on top of it. I imagine it working something like SNMP. The application only traps what is relevant for what it is monitoring, even though there are a lot of conversations going on. Likewise, in terms of collaboration or project management, there might be applications that tag certain types of communication and only pay attention to similar types of communication. Status updates would be monitored by the calendaring robot and only displayed by the calendar application. IM like communication streams might be aggregated into an Inbox like feature so that people can "mute" the conversation stream and go back to it later. I'd imagine that there will be a great demand for threading and search capabilities on those sorts of streams.

    Right now it seems like people are looking at Wave from the perspective of an individual user. Does one user need to talk to twelve different people at once? Hell no. On the other hand, your average organization has dozens if not more conversation streams taking place between departments and individuals at any given point during the work day. Different departments might not know what each other are up to in a timely enough manner to be relevant. With something like Wave tying together the various information streams (email, calendaring, wiki, etc), connections can be made between individuals that might otherwise be missed.

    Then again, I didn't read either article and for all I know Wave might just be a Twitter clone with a worthless API that can't be leveraged for anything other than talking about Britney Spears.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:33PM (#29611909)

    I've never read something on Twitter and felt like that person really had something important to say.

    "AT THE CONCERT - IT'S COOL -- LOLOL"

    There's just not that much that is of such ultra-importance that it can be summed up in 160 characters (or however many it is -- you can tell I'm a huge fan).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:44PM (#29611979)

    If you fail to answer, they'll assume you're screening the call and will leave you out of the loop on the next social engagement as a punishment for breaking the social contract (screening your friend's call is a slap in the face).

    Only to the terminally insecure. All of my friends know that if I don't answer the phone it's because I'm busy, left the damned thing in the car again or driving and don't have my headset with me. They know I'll call them back to find out what they wanted when I'm available.

  • by value_added (719364) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @05:50PM (#29612035)

    Gmail threads top-post emails into a coherent conversation just fine.

    Bah. The concept of threading is as old as dirt, and despite people "discovering" it, or otherwise implementing it as a "new feature", there's plenty of people using email that still don't grasp the fundamentals. Either way, there's far more to coherency than how a given list of emails is visually sorted.

    As for Google's Wave, what I remember from the videos was that replies (at least those shown being made) were made "in-line". If that's how things will work, then there's hope we'll be done with TOFU-style posting, and Exchange users will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future. Or more correctly, back into the past before Microsoft and the generations that grew up with that nonsense screwed things up for everyone.

    My concern is the with interface. While average folks seem to enjoy living in their browser, there's plenty of us (myself, included) that cringe that the thought. In the videos, there was what seemed to be an ncurses interface (it garnered the loudest applause), but few details were offered, and the discussions I've read since made no mention of it.

  • I would argue that Twitter and Wave have the exact opposite effect. In the hands of an lucid and incisive orator, they are next to useless as a medium for the dissemination of ideas. On the other hand, for vapid, shrill and fallacious authors they are a godsend, enabling them to broadcast their general message of stupidity and ignorance to a wider field than ever before.

    In a way, they are a microcosm of the Internet itself!

  • Small OSS Projects (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:03PM (#29612167)
    I could see this becoming popular for small OSS projects. These can often have an IRC channel or 5, A website, Possibly a google group, a forum, a bug tracker, a gitorious site, a wiki, email, IM, and i'm sure other things.

    If this Google Wave thing gets good robots and cuts the crap in half it will be incredibly useful to small OSS projects. Not only will it be less of a pain but it will make the project more efficient and better in general. I've seen plenty of situations where half of the info sources are out of date.

    Some good tools would be importing data in a nice manner from a variety of sites. If it can just import a wiki then we will see people change much faster. Other things would be tools for programmers generally, ability to post code in a nice way, with the dif highlighted. Or perhaps something to make a todo list.

    That said it is all in the implementation. If they make it easy to add toys I can see it being used quick. It also needs to be open, private wikis spread since people can make their own. It doesn't matter if it still goes through google so long as users have a way to implement it in their OWN way on their own site, so it has to be customizable. Making an OSS client for this would help, they are replacing types of communication that can be accessed from lots of places. I also think integrating feeds of different types would help, maybe be able to email into the wave or read through email. Access through a phone ap. Basically for it to go well they need to integrate and eat all the forms of communication they are competing with. They'll be hard pressed to make this work unless the are competitive individually with each type of communication.

    There are a lot of little things that need to go right and I doubt it will happen first try. But I believe this type of integrated, combined interaction is the future of small group communication. And I haven't tried it myself.
  • by tecnico.hitos (1490201) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:07PM (#29612193)

    I always thought it would be nice if people in IMs could see what I'm typing, to feel more like a real conversation.

    Now that I think about it, it would be very disrupting to have several people with their messages appearing slowly all at once... which is not unlike a real conversation.

    You know, if people are able to see what others are typing, it may lead to strange "waves" in which people may not hit submit even once.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:15PM (#29612273)
    Ohw, speak for yourself. Top-posting beats bottom-posting any minute of the day. I've got better things to do than to scroll all the way down across all the shit that /I/ wrote there myself. I know what I typed to person X, why do I need to read it again? It's good to have included as an archive, so you don't have to browse through your sent items continuously, but it doesn't really have a use at that moment.
  • by smallfries (601545) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:49PM (#29612525) Homepage

    The prelaunch hype by Google and Google fanboys.

    Doesn't really qualify as an answer. Point out where Google claimed that they would magically take n-party interactions and make them as simple as two-party. No answer, eh?

    Translation: "I don't agree with this review, and thus the reviewer is at fault and ignorant for not agreeing with me. Even though he has seen the software and I... haven't".

    Translation: I've decided the GP is wrong without having any evidence, so to rationalise my decision I'll flame him like a bitch.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:44PM (#29612855)

    Ironically enough I created a facebook account for the sole purpose of protecting my online identity.

    Now it won't be as easy for someone to impersonate me.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:06PM (#29612967) Journal

    If you fail to answer, they'll assume you're screening the call

    Those are some pretty assuming friends.

    Of the people I know who carry a cell, they don't always answer it, don't always physically have it with them, and don't always have it on. There's really no safe assumption I can make for the reason my call didn't go through.

    within the first month after I bought a disposable cell phone they all dumped their old texting phones and got smartphones. Now they refuse to use text and only want to use email.

    I wish I had friends like yours. I pretty much have been insisting on IM and email for years now.

  • by tecnico.hitos (1490201) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:30PM (#29613119)

    It is possible to toggle the per-character updates, at least on the sending side so people don't see you typing. I could see some filters being added for the ADD types who get distracted by other people typing too.

    That was uncalled for. Remember that several people can participate of the same wave.

    It would be good if I had the option to disable the view of per-character updates, or even disable per-character updates altogether. It would require less javascript processing and maybe even bandwidth.

    Talking about bandwidth and processing, how does Wave behave on slower connections/low-end hardware. Having per-character updates means it both need constant asynchronous communication with the wave federation server, which would too be very javascript intensive. For wave to succeed they cannot afford leaving people out of it, since it's the people that make a comm... Oooh! Shiny!

  • by bonch (38532) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:09PM (#29613285)

    IMs have the advantage of being organized by the window manager. In Wave, replies to threads are all appearing in the same inbox in real-time. Managing that clutter is the time sink he was talking about.

  • Gmail to the rescue. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kklein (900361) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:18PM (#29613855)

    There is one reason why Gmail killed my email client application: Conversation view. All related messages stay together and you never have the embarrassing problem of replying before reading all of the responses. It also makes for a cleaner inbox that actually reflects how many things you've got on your plate right now. I don't know why offline email clients can get it right (Postbox is trying, but it still isn't as good as Gmail).

    The only thing that breaks it is if you have one of those annoying correspondents who insists on just hitting "reply" to any random message from you, and writing about something unrelated without changing the subject line. Or the people who do change the subject line, even though the subject hasn't changed.

    I also prefer subject lines to be a one-line summary of the topic, not a "title." Something like: "Please get me that TPS report by next Friday (10/9)" rather than "TPS report." But that's just personal taste.

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:28AM (#29617321) Homepage

    So presumably you're not interested in space.. Jeff Foust goes to just about every space conference there is and reports via twitter on what he sees there. You'll find stuff there that a wider audience might not appreciate. As I can't go to these conferences myself, it's invaluable, I don't have to wait for the winds to decide that something Jeff sees is worthy of turning into one of his fantastic articles.

    I am, so I went and checked. I never really used twitter before, or followed anybody on it. So here you have my first impression:

    It looks confusing and absolutely pointless. The thing that caught my attention are the parts of conversations with random people. Except I don't know what those people said, so I don't know what Jeff is replying to, and the link on the username leads to the user's main page, so I'd have to manually locate what the hell Jeff was referring to. By now it could be 5 pages back.

    Ignoring the conversations doesn't make it much better. There are several kinds of useless entries:

    Entries that document that something happened but say nothing useful about it. For instance:

    Sat next to Bill Readdy on flight to BWI; talked a lot about comm'l space, investing, and hosted payloads.

    Random observations nobody cares about:

    At Logan Airport to catch flight home. Noticed recorded voice on shuttle from T stop identical to one on Dulles parking shuttles.

    Revelations that don't reveal anything, because there's no explanation. This could be potentially interesting, but there's zero explanation or justification for it:

    Former astronaut Bill Readdy: ISS not just a place for research but also for commerce. LEO is the domain of commerce.

    Potentially interesting info, missing crucial details (constellations for what? what would the satellites do?)

    Mark Sirangelo, SNC: expect 5-10 LEO constellations in next 5 years involving 100s of satellites.

    Cryptic things I have no clue what they're supposed to mean.

    Former astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz: NASA is a "high-entropy" environment compared to commercial sector.

    Overall I see no reason to keep reading. It's a weird mix of pointless, useless and incomplete stuff that doesn't even include a pointer to anywhere to find more info. Maybe there are useful posts ocassionally but there seems to be too much noise to bother digging it up, even from the page of somebody who definitely has a life a lot more interesting than that of the average person.

    Now the articles look interesting, thanks for the link.

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