Three ways I’m using Google Wave

30 November 2009

I got my invite to Google Wave more than a month ago but I’m just now starting to realize it’s usefulness. I’ve used it chiefly for internal planning at The Daily Tar Heel and for personal uses, and I’ve still yet to use it for reporting, but I’m interested in trying that out. One thing I realized after countless times of logging in only to see no new waves: It’s only as cool as the people you have to Wave with. As more people I know have gotten on though, it’s becoming more and more helpful. Three ways I’m using it:

A discussion about online goals for the DTH

We’re always evaluating how our online operations are going, but it’s been hard to have frequent conversations with many people at the DTH. Typically, it’s just the online editor, myself and a few others involved in short conversations, or e-mails back and forth. We’ve got a new Wave where we discuss workflow problems we’re having, and solutions, and we’re also using it to discuss the mission of the desk and how it fits in to the paper. Eventually, I’d like us to use the Wave to collaboratively come up with a guiding document for the desk.

Daily updates on multimedia projects we’re working on

The multimedia editors at the DTH and I have a Wave where we keep track of all that they’re working on. If they write that they’re waiting on some information before the project can move forward, I can add it in quickly. It keeps us all on the same page, without us all having to be in the office and updating one another face-to-face, and it massively cuts down on the number of e-mails sent back and forth.

A study guide for a class I’m taking

Finals are coming up, and we’ve started a Wave between three of us in a class to share notes and questions before the exam. Before we probably would have done the same thing but with Google docs, but this way we can add comments easier and share other documents.

Probably my greatest frustration with Wave is just the learning curve. I watched the video guides and read a tutorial, but plenty of people who want to Wave with me don’t seem to get it yet, and I’ve had to archive or trash plenty of Waves that don’t go beyond “I don’t know what to do with this.” Many of my contacts have also disappeared from Wave after clamoring for invites and then deciding they didn’t know what to do with it. Since it’s only as useful as the people you’re waving with, if those people aren’t very savvy or interested, it’s kind of disappointing.

I still like Wave a lot though, and I’m optimistic that people will  pick it up. In these three cases it’s been incredibly useful for me, but I’m also not ready yet to give up e-mail, chat and Google docs as other ways of working collaboratively that I already use. Those tools work pretty well for what I want to do right now, and Wave will probably just supplement those for me.