From Wave to Buzz to Google’s dominion over the social sphere

Complete and utter dominion? Mmmaybe.

And for someone like me who squirms at the thought of in-your-face monopolies plowing through the globe with such wanton resolve, I’m actually more fascinated over information itself (how it’s created, accessed, shared and managed) not so much the blatant hording and control freaking.

Yeah okay, Google will be Skynet one day blah blah blah. But for now, no harm in getting all googley-eyed over its shiny social toys.

Wave who?
Seems passé to blog about Wave now but whatev—I’m more  interested in sharing what @charlottehrb (Charlotte Barker), @RepuTrack (Joseph Fiore) and I have gleaned based on a few Wave sessions.

Forgetting what ‘beta’ means
The Wave beta invites were a tough sell and even tougher that people forgot (or don’t know?) what being in beta meant. Beta tests must happen under controlled environments and conditions, so Google was in fact challenged to offer and deliver Wave invites more broadly. But people didn’t care. They wanted their Wave “now!” and the countless whining set the stage for unbridled criticism when Wave came crashing onto screens.

Google Wave
image sourced from

Seinfeld 2.0
When Charlotte and I started waving in November, it was like watching a Seinfeld episode—typing over each other, branching off reply streams all over the place, and struggling with on-the-fly typos. So we decided to take a few notes for best practice to help with future sessions:

  • Wave etiquette
    For a Wave dialogue to work, you must actually wait for whoever is currently typing to finish their thought before replying/commenting. And even if you think they’re done and they decide to edit their entry further, WAIT. Let them finish. And if you’ve been suddenly invited to join a Wave session, scan the stream first, determine what’s been covered, assess the focus of the conversation, who is “talking” at the moment and then announce yourself when they’re finished.
  • Small projects, not complex ones
    Wave is not very intuitive to the average user. Uber geeks have no issue since they are familiar with the programming language, syntax and API. So how useful is Wave to the rest of us? Well to date, Charlotte, Joseph and I find Wave handy as a planning and discussion tool. You can use it to map  out project plans, define scope, flesh out ideas and even prepare outlines. Large, multi-pronged projects? Not really.
  • Basic editor primed for enhancements
    During our Wave sessions, we kept reminding ourselves that Wave is still under development. And because of its open source nature, it’s likely going to coast gingerly along with no rush. But we did notice that its Word-like text editor works fine (although no ability to undo, i.e., Ctrl-Z) and there are great ways to share files, documents and links by embedding them easily. As I write this I wonder if Google will soon be announcing updates to Wave’s ‘other’ functionalities.
  • Privacy
    Buzz got its hands slapped a few times at first with the not-so-obvious opt-in/opt-out settings.  Wave, on the other hand, had no such privacy-related issues. In fact privacy was automatic. Because we chose to skip reading the manual, we decided to do basic tests to determine how private our sessions were. Here’s what we confirmed (actually, Charlotte did most of the homework on this one):

    1. If you start a Wave session, you are the only one who can see/interact within that Wave.
    2. If you invite another contact (or other contacts) to join the Wave, only you and those you’ve invited can see/interact/access that session.
    3. To make a Wave public, you must add the ‘public’ contact to the wave which will make it visible to anyone (i.e., click on the [+] sign above the Wave and type “”) But why make a private conversation/project public, right?
    4. If you do a search with keywords, only Waves that have been made public are searchable.
image sourced from

Joseph noted that “the one thing about this interface (#wave) is that it allows multiple discussions – a multi-tasking of discussions – and I was thinking about the way iPad got beat up over not being capable of multi-tasking. But what if the future of software application development makes multi-faceted elements, functions, features and productivity the standard in the near future.  Will you need to jump out of Google to email someone when you can simply #wave?”

Or Buzz? Or..something else? See where this is all headed?

Hasta la Chrome, baby
@robdiana (Rob Diana), another tribe member, posted a thought-provoking piece on GOOG’s evolution in the social sphere, Google Buzz Is Just A Baby Step — an apt segue I thought. I highly recommend reading his musings.

So, All hail GOOG!

You’re all..shiny..and everything.

10 thoughts on “From Wave to Buzz to Google’s dominion over the social sphere

  1. Great post. I loved the Google/Skynet comparison! I think that Wave will be a very valuable tool when dealing with Virtual groups. Thanks so much for handing out some Wave “best practices”. These will for sure help when I dive more deeply into this tool for my corporations own collaborative efforts!!

  2. This is actually useful. Thank you Autom, Charlotte and Joseph for putting in the hours and the research. Seldom do I feel altered by this type of post, yet today I am dusting off my Google wave and giving it a second chance.

  3. No doubt another great post Autom! Props to Charlotte and Joseph for all the research as well…. I have to admit, like Alasdair, I just had to just dust off my Wave account after reading your post. Funny, how I was all stoked about Wave for the months following the developer conference and quickly brushed it aside after a few months of play. When I take a step back and ask why did Wave not catch on… I think it comes down to some of the many reasons people have been playing down Buzz… as not too many peeps in the socialverse are “not” wanting to add yet another social tool to their cluttered tool box!

    Don’t get me wrong… I love the potential of Wave and what it will eventually evolve into with help from the developer community. However, I still don’t see Wave gaining any traction on a consumer level. Wave’s potential is as an enterprise product. GOOG should just add it to their existing list of Apps and call it a day! Example: Social CRM… Look at the time and money being invested by on Chatter (great looking tool), although I am still trying to figure out why the CEO just recently compared the future of CRM to a controlled, refined version of Facebook (little scary)??? Now, I can’t say I agree with that thought process as Facebook is the definition of complete noise and social distortion… but I do however see GOOG’s Wave platform as a sweet baseline to build social CRM tools with (especially open source CRM).

    Who knows…. If GOOG can overcome all the privacy issues and stop being information whores, than perhaps products like Buzz may have a chance to take-off and not crash and burn before even getting started. Personally, Skynet scares the bejesus out of me… Don’t even get me started on how location Apps like Buzz with Maps 4.0 are going to open the door to stalkers and all physcos in general… Parents will now have to warn their children to turn off the LBS (Location Based Service) feature in their phone before leaving the house! =)

  4. Christina – always happy to share observations..we could have in fact gone into more detail (e.g., when someone is typing their name appears beside the cursor, if they’re pausing or still in typing mode the hi-lited name reamins visible, it’s a cue to wait.. when you type an URL out it automatically activates the link for you much like Word, etc.) we could have also delved more into details on the WYSIWYG tool for the text editor etc. but i figured ppl would figure it out eventually..practice makes perfect, right? : )

    Alasdair – so glad you found this useful…one of my objectives with this post is not only to bring down the Wave experience to the everyday user but also remind people about the beta experience, that Wave is an open source product that is in constant development etc., and with that context, perhaps encourage others to give it another whirl to see its potential

    Aaron – yes, there is an excess of social tools out there and betas always gets a bad rap when not well received by the average user. but per our wave just now (haha) online social tools designed with specific collaborative functionalities require more than your average controlled beta test perhaps the order of the day is indeed to push out to the hyped up public and see what bugs they can comment on FaceShmook (as you know I have a special place in the cold room storage– i mean in the back of my head, for that one)…the GOOG/Skynet comparison is certainly nothing new and something I find somewhat humorous at this point..location based apps to me is like deploying do-it-yourself programs that will entice an unwitting public to do all the cartographic work as they ping locations left right and center as if plotting out coordinates and confirming they match with GPS readings (and other revenue-tied MO’s i won’t even get into)..ho hum..and certainly the privacy factor is something an average, “social star struck” user wouldn’t even pause to consider as long as they manage to become mayor of a bus stop..

    BUT..and we all know this..we are in the midst of the burgeoning mobile Biz Stone once said “mobile has always been part of Twitter’s DNA” (or something to this effect) this was quite telling for me when I first came across that comment.. in my mind, the shift is happening so blatantly, and as the leveled, democratized approach gains full momentum we see social channels expand, access become increasingly easy and the insane drive to achieve the most ubiquitous experience realized at every conceivable scenario..but at what cost? so many other delicate, subtle elements are left unchecked (e.g.,privacy, security, etc.)

    remember what they say about having too much of a good thing..and we all know who “they” are now don’t we? haha

  5. Great discussion to yet another brilliant post by Autom!

    As I was writing this comment, I tried to think back to the way Google claimed its relevance through domination. If we look at Wave as an application, it would be made most relevant on a “corporate” platform, but there are a few misses with the way you need a Gmail account to send an invite or login. While Gmail has become ubiquitous for “personal” uses, I can’t see there being enough elements to draw in the business crowd, especially if they have to make a case to use “social toys” in the workplace, much less register for a free email account.

    The next question to ask – how does Wave and Buzz measure-up against its search and alert properties? Will the right recipe for success require a dash of an acquired property to bring relevance to GOOG-baked goods, or will it suffice for Wave to add whiteboards and desktop sharing features to usher in the throng of corporate? My hunch is not anywhere near the way its attained its search and alert dominance, and it will take more than a few features to overcome the laggard mentalities that are deeply entrenched in the privacy and security costs with freeware.

    Reserving some thought to Autom’s and Biz Stone’s “mobile DNA”, and coupling that idea with the announcement of iPhone suing HTC, I can’t help wonder if Wave was just a staked claim to protect its ideas for Buzz – or for something bigger and more fitting to defend and affirm its position as search despot 😉


  6. I had used Wave before to learn and showcase with other(s) from my Twitter stream. It was very confusing when we had over 10 or so people. When it was like 4-6 people it seemed more seamless. I think it’s great for editing a single piece document (article) but for a mutiple page (50pg pdf) I don’t think it will work so well. I like the concept but might use has tailed off on in until Google fixes the lags especially on the 3rd party apps for Wave on the iphone. It works for some people. I’ll probably give it a try again.

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