Google Wave: First Impressions from Real People, Not “Experts”

Note: This post was written by Brian K. McDaniel (@BKmacdaddy on Twitter). Don’t forget to check out his amazing web designs at:, and follow him on Twitter.

In case you’ve been living under a rock & haven’t heard, 100,000 invitations to try out the much-hyped Google Wave were sent out last week. Everyone that received an invitation was also given 8 more invitations that they could send out to whoever they deemed worthy.

The story…

Social media & technology geeks (like me) drooled with anticipation, & when it became obvious that I was not going to be a recipient of the initial ‘wave’ of invites (pun intended) I began using Twitter to try to cajole someone into sending me one of their 2nd generation invitations with promises of lifelong friendship & dedication. Sure enough, thanks to the power of Twitter, I received offers from a few of my followers who were willing to send me a golden ticket, & my joy knew no bounds. My young friend @storiesofmac assured me he signed me up to receive one of his coveted invites, & the waiting began. Finally, almost a week later, I opened my Gmail inbox to the most wonderful automated email I’ve received to date. I signed up & created my Wave account, then began looking for contacts to add.

But alas, the first day I was only able to connect with two, & at separate times. So in essence, my first impression of Wave was that it was pretty much another version of instant messaging. I had a couple brief conversations, marveling at the real-time vision of someone else’s letters appearing as they typed, & laughing at their typos & edits (& mine). My joy was diluted, although I could see the obvious potential.

Google Wave - first impression: IM service

Google Wave - first impression: IM service

Now let me pause in this story to point out that during the week while I was waiting oh-so-impatiently for my Wave access, I read everything I could about it. It was no surprise to see that many of the “experts” who were already playing around with the new toy had chosen to lash out against it. It seems this is the typical process in the media as of late. The more elaborately something or someone begins to generate buzz, the more fashionable it becomes for the media to trash it. I realize that writing blog posts & articles that rip apart a media darling will definitely draw attention & garner visitor traffic, but I just wanted to know what it was really like. It seemed that high-profile bloggers were saying it was overhyped, only to inspire a slew of responses in their comment sections that mostly disagreed.

So when I finally got a chance to try it out, I was admittedly hoping to prove the premature backlash wrong. I wanted Wave to be everything the hype had said & more. But unfortunately my first experience fell short. After discussing it with the two different individuals via Wave, we concluded that it was basically “IM on steroids”.

The next day I discovered that a few more of my Twitter friends had received their invites so I happily added them to my contacts, bringing the grand total to 7! I was trying to figure out a way to get these 7 people together into one Wave to explore the collaboration possibilities when it hit me! Why not use Wave to “interview” each of them about their first impressions & write this article about it? This is when my fun with Wave began. It was late but before I went to sleep I started a new Wave explaining what I wanted to do & asking 4 questions, then I added all my new contacts to it. Now it was out there, I could go to sleep, & dream of what would be waiting for me in the Wave in the morning.

Next morning I anxiously checked the Wave only to discover that not a single contact had responded! I quickly realized that with Wave being so new, most people would not just leave it open or even check it often to see if anyone was contacting them. So I went to each of my Wave contacts’ Twitter accounts & sent them a private message letting them know I had added them to a Wave for this interview. Within the next hour 5 of them were in the Wave & the fun began!

The fun with Wave begins…

Google Wave, another screenshot

Google Wave, another screenshot (click to enlarge)

Responses to my questions started getting typed in, some simultaneously, which became a bit crazy to try to read & respond to since multiple people can be typing anywhere in the Wave at the same time. I found myself scrolling up & down constantly to see what was being added & to interact. Several conversations were going on at once between all or some of us. It was both exhilarating & frantic at the same time. It didn’t take long to see that there will be Wave etiquette & proper use of threads to develop & learn in order to get the most use out of this new tool.

Over the next 80 minutes the wave filled up with over 170 messages. The pace was relatively insane, & the real-time aspect of everything made it all the more breathtaking. Seriously, I was almost panting when I signed out. A couple contacts just answered the questions, interacted a bit & left. Another came later on in the day & dropped her answers in. Another lurked & contributed only every now & then. The amount of individual participation was determined by each user. 3 of us carried most of the conversation from beginning to end, discussing our likes & dislikes & asking each other various questions. When I finally needed to disconnect, the other 2 started their own new wave to continue talking.

Needless to say, my 2nd day’s impression of Wave was much different than the 1st. I was amazed at the experience & the incredible potential I can now see of this phenomenal collaborative platform. I don’t know where it will end up nor do I care to try to form a prediction of its success or failure. Personally, I think it is very irresponsible to try something like this out a few times & then write a proclamation like that. Only a year ago I was laughing at my friends who were on Twitter, saying how ridiculous they were & what a stupid idea the technology was. But today I am constantly utilizing Twitter to grow my freelance business in ways I never imagined & connecting with new friends, peers & colleagues every day.

The conclusion

So here’s my conclusion: Google Wave is a phenomenal new technology that we have yet to see or imagine how it will impact our online & offline world. But I am as certain as I can be that it will definitely impact it somehow. I don’t believe it is any more overhyped than Miley Cyrus deleting her Twitter account. In other words, we live in an age of overhyped being the norm, so get over it. Instead of jumping on the backlash bandwagon, move on to the anticipation of possibilities & potential & let’s open our minds to allow for Google Wave’s release version to take shape & then be shaped even more by the millions of users that most likely will eventually be on board. Think about it. Most successful social media tools were never heard of before they caught on in the mainstream, & look at the broad usage they receive. But Wave is already connected to a household name. In fact, one of the few household names that is both a noun & a verb. Doesn’t it stand to reason that it will enjoy widespread adoption?

Will it replace email or Twitter or Friendfeed or other existing tools? I don’t know. But I suggest that instead of comparing it to the things we know, Google Wave is quite possibly going to become something unlike anything we can imagine. I would challenge you to open your mind, hold off on judgments, & do your part in contributing to its development as a new, unique platform & tool that may become yet another household term.

And yes, it’s already a noun & a verb.

Don’t forget to read Brian’s interview of people’s first impression of Google Wave.

Comments and Reactions

28 responses to “Google Wave: First Impressions from Real People, Not “Experts””

  1. […] read more about my experience and thoughts in my first guest post ever written. It’s over on and you can read it HERE. Once I added a few contacts I decided it would be a cool way to test out […]

  2. April says:

    I was very grateful to be involved in Brian’s experiment and it was loads of fun! I have to agree with Brian, that after there were more people involved, it became something else and much more fun. I am really looking forward to what impact Google Wave will have on the way we communicate.

  3. laura wilson says:

    For web conferences you should try ,
    Great for online teaching and collaborating. I use it for working on my designs with other in my field.
    Its free and pretty simple – you just upload your file and invite others to view it together.
    – Laura W.

  4. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the article – glad it was helpful! :)

  5. badjedi says:

    I enjoyed this article very much.I agree that alot more time must be given to see the potential and drawbacks of the wave.Thanks for the insight.

  6. laura wilson says:

    For web conferences you should try ,
    Great for online teaching and collaborating. I use it for working on my designs with other in my field.
    Its free and pretty simple – you just upload your file and invite others to view it together.
    – Laura W.

  7. Beiruta says:

    Great post Brian! It's good to see your name here with us as a guest writer! We are honored :)

    As for your question: “Will it replace email or Twitter or Friendfeed or other existing tools?” In my humble opinion, I think the answer is a definite “No”. I believe Google Wave will have so much to offer but it won't wipe out and replace existing tools… People like routine, they like what they are used to… No one will make that shift unless Google Wave is able to offer so much more than all those tools combined, which I highly doubt!

  8. is there any chance i could get an invite?


  9. Sorry but my invitation was a 2nd generation so I didn't get any to hand out. I wish! Thanks for reading though. ;-)

  10. Thanks for the encouragement & the chance to contribute, Beirut! Looking forward to many more exchanges and collaborations in the future!

    Although, as I said, I am not one for making predictions, I will not be surprised at all if Google Wave eventually replaces a lot of the tools we currently use. But if it does I think it will be awhile and after many changes and tweaks. For instance, it was pretty cool to be able to tweet straight from within Wave, but I couldn't see my @replies column – only those I follow. But if/when someone creates a bot that has all the functionality of Tweetdeck, I think I would ditch TD in a second to be able to Tweet in a wave while also interacting in other waves at the same time.

    It's a lot to think about, and I think we have a LONG way to go before anyone will know what's going to happen. Especially Google!

  11. I think the issue is that the hype is keeping people from seeing beyond this early preview release. If you dig into the developers section and or have a Google Wave Sandbox account then you can see a bit more of the potential. Here is my take on what could be with Wave as it relates to media production.

  12. JoanNyobe says:

    Great article and your opinion has been thoroughly noted. I was apprehensive about Google Wave. Now, I will give it a try!

  13. […] the whole story here: Brian K. McDaniel aggregated by […]

  14. […] this link: Google Wave: First Impressions from Real People, Not “Experts … Categories: Technology Tags: been-living, bkmacdaddy-sheds, case-you, experience, google-wave, […]

  15. FadiPick says:

    I totally agree with you, we need time to figure out the potential of google wave. I remember the first time I have created an account on Twitter and how absurd I thought it is at that time, but then with no time I grew addicted to it!

    Btw, it is so good to have you here :)

  16. […] with Brian McDaniel (@bkmacdaddy on Twitter). Brian wrote us a great article entitled ‘Google Wave: First Impressions from Real People, Not “Experts”‘ which got more than 700 views and 50 RTs in under a day. In exchange, we wrote this article […]

  17. Hey… I'd love to join your experiment. I just got my Google wave account yesterday and feel totally underwhelmed so far.

  18. Thisw is a very good presentation of a new application in the field of communication and collaboration. I think this has tremendous potential, and I'm looking forward to it. I didn't get an invitation for the initial “wave” but I'll eagerly await the general release. We have no concept at this point of what the ultimate impact of this new application will be. Things like this have a way of forging their own way in the world. Terrific article Brain and Beirut I appreciate the opportunity to take a look at the new technology.

  19. […] Google Wave: First Impressions from Real People, Not “Experts … […]

  20. hoewner says:

    Brian, very good post! Do you see Google Wave as a serious competitor to enterprise microblogging tools like Yammer or Communote?

  21. Thanks for the encouragement! It's really good to be here too! :)

  22. Cool! Glad this was helpful!

  23. Well, the 'experiment' is over but you are more than welcome to add me to your Wave contacts. However, you would have to contact me via Twitter (@bkmacdaddy) in order to get my info – I don't want everyone having my Wave address. :)

  24. Thank you, Steve, for the kind words and encouragement. I'm glad the article is useful for you.

  25. I've never used Communote, but I tried Yammer for a couple months with one of my main clients. We ended up dumping it because it was basically “Twitter for the workplace” and it became an extra step that was more distraction than helpful. But Google Wave has far more tools incorporated into it and the potential for many more as developers create them, so my short answer would be “Absolutely!” The collaborative possibilities are, to me, the highlight of Wave and what could be the future of information sharing and collaborative communication. We shall see…

  26. I guess you'll have to follow me in order for me to DM you. I'm @egs.

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