riding the wave

wave

wave

Yesterday’s post seemed to strike a nerve within the programming community, it was encouraging to see that I was not alone. I want to thank everyone that provided great commentary both here and in the Hacker News entry. I will probably touch upon the topic again, unlike a sitcom the issue of professional burnout isn’t solved in a half-hour, but not today. Today I want to talk about Google Wave!

I previously wrote about Google Wave in you can’t understand google wave which had such gems as

The problem with people waxing inanely about what Google Wave will be is that they have their heads up their asses. They don’t know, because they can’t know.

I wrote that post a long time ago during the hype and the hyperbole about Wave being the savior of the world or the misstep that will sink Google. I also wrote that post from the outside looking in, not being lucky enough to have a wave invite, I could just read the whitepapers and wonder. Yesterday though the worm turned and my dear friend Jeremiah Peschka sent me a coveted invite. After the Google gears churned away I got the email later that night, the velvet rope had swung open, I would be able to ride the wave! I fired up firefox and clicked the link, my hands trembling with the joy of new technology. I was whisked off to the interface I had come to expect in screencasts and diagrams.

I then had A Universally Confusing Initial User Experience, and tried furiously to remember Mark Essel’s Aha Moment. Once I typed “with:public” and then variations on that theme “with:public haskell” or “with:public erlang” I was off and running in the world of wave. I’d like to jot down my first impressions

  1. There is a lot of stuff out there – so many you often see listings like “51 – 76 of lots” which is the cute way Google Wave tells you there is a ton of stuff.
  2. There are other languages – I’m looking at Korean, Cyrillic, Chinese, and Spanish, all in one little window. Very rarely in my day to day surfing on the old internet do I see anything but English, on wave you see everything.
  3. Gadgets == slow – Maybe it was just a bad first experience, but Gadgets seem to bog down the wave a ton. This coupled with the fact that the few I saw seem absolutely pointless made me despise that little puzzle piece
  4. Wave == slow? – I have a fairly beefy home computer with the top tier internet connection Time Warner Cable provides, but wave felt sluggish. Things worked, but the wait times were on the high end. I thought at one point I should try it in Chrome, but that didn’t seem to make anything better.
  5. I don’t know what I’m doing – This is the big sticking point so far, I have no idea how to use this thing
  6. It pushes the boundaries – Often as a web developer we get too used to the standard paradigms, we also get stuck in a mental model that is concerned (rightly or overly) about bounce rates and conversions. Wave pushes these boundaries, Google has enough muscle to say, this is important, it doesn’t matter if people don’t “get it” right away, they will. It’s big enough and important enough that people can bounce, they will end up back at Wave before long. This is what Apple does, and it’s why people love (and loathe) Apple products.
  7. Scrollbars – I read an article about the Google Wave scrollbars a week or two ago and couldn’t make up my mind. After using them I will say you get used to it quite quickly, but I’m still not sure why they felt it necessary to re-engineer this feature. I’m thinking the biggest reason is the on-demand nature of Wave makes it so that even Wave doesn’t know how many more items are in a list, making traditional scrollbars difficult

At this point I still need to play around with Wave quite a bit before I get the hang of it. I’m going to attempt to avoid making any statements predicting into the future, because I can’t. I’m glad Google is pushing the boundaries, wave could surge or crash, either way I think its impact will be positive. Google is saying in a very public way that it is ok to think outside the box, reinvent scrollbars, change the way we view a web application, and that will have results.

People are going to debate the merits of all the parts of Wave, and that debate has definite value. The ideas that will come forth from that debate will have impact on usability, communication protocols, general design, and so much more. Pushing the community forward is never a bad thing, and so in that respect Google Wave is already a success.

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2 comments

  1. Hey thanks for the shout!

    I totally agree that “Wave == slow?” is a major issue for me. I’d visit it much more often if it responded faster. As is I can only rationally sneak in usage when I have free time (once to twice per week really). Not sure if you saw the wave guide I started a while back but has grown far beyond my initial few waves.

    Matt you graduated from the same university as my good buddy Eli Sacks (Bowling Green, where I bowled my highest score ever while visiting him). He’s a physics major (and finished the coursework for a masters but not the exam test). He’s actually been looking for work, any chance your most excellent sounding company of HMB Information System Developers, is looking for people. His coding background is limited to C, but he’s a quick learner. Shoot me an email at messel at gmail dot com or a ping at messel at googlewave dot com.

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