Google Wave crashes on beach of overhype

I just got my Google Wave invite. No, I’m already out, so I can’t send one to you, sorry.

But this service is way overhyped and as people start to use it they will realize it brings the worst of email and IM together: unproductivity.

See, the first thing you notice is that you can see people chatting live in Google Wave.

That’s really cool if you are working on something together, like a spreadsheet or a Word document.

But it’s a productivity sink if you are trying to just communicate with other people.

It also ignores the productivity gains that we’ve gotten from RSS feeds, Twitter, and FriendFeed.

What do I mean by that?

It is noisy, but the noise often happens way down in a wave deep in your inbox.

This is far far worse than email. (New email always shows up at the top of my inbox, where Google Wave can bring me new stuff deep down at the bottom of my inbox).

It’s far far worse than Twitter (where new stuff ALWAYS shows up at top). It’s even far worse than FriendFeed, which my friends always said was too noisy. At least there when you write a comment on an item it pops to the top of the page.

And, worse, when I look at my Google Wave page I see dozens of people all typing to me in real time. I don’t know where to look and keeping up with this real time noise is less like email, which is like tennis (hit one ball at a time) and more like dodging a machine gun of tennis balls. Much more mentally challenging.

See, Google Wave was oversold as something you’d use with the public, or at least with large groups of friends, like you use Twitter, email, or Facebook.

No. Using it that way is an attention dump and will kill your productivity. Google Wave is actually closer to IM. Great with your very close friends or very active coworkers but horrid for nearly everyone else.

Google’s Wave will crash hard onto the beach of overhype.

My advice?

DO NOT ADD EVERYONE. Get a close personal friend, or a coworker to play with this and don’t publicize that you’re using it until you are sure you can deal with the productivity hit you’ll take here.

DO NOT ASSUME THIS IS A TWITTER KILLER. It is not. It’s not even a good sharing engine, far worse than FriendFeed is. I’d recommend using a private room over on FriendFeed first.

DO TRY THE API if you are a developer. From what I’m seeing that’s where the real value in Google Wave will come, but we haven’t seen enough apps yet so end users won’t find much here to play with yet.

To see some screen shots and how noisy this can get, go over and check out Louis Gray’s post about it.

Just get ready for the crash of overhype, this one didn’t deserve this much hype for what it delivered.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

235 thoughts on “Google Wave crashes on beach of overhype

  1. Since when has IM been productive? Rather than, say, an irritating way for other people to distract you? I'm probably using it wrong.

    And Twitter/Friendfeed/Facebook/et cetera *can* improve productivity, if you have the willpower restrict yourself to a couple of minutes out of every hour (something which, unfortunately, I do not possess). Scientific research suggests that two-minute breaks every hour can significantly improve concentration.

  2. I think that's why the majority of the world isn't “in” yet, and Wave will continue to change as they build the service to the point they want it to be at for a public release. The public doesn't have access right now, only a bunch of nerds really do. Google will leverage the power of that community so that they can have a lot of great features built on its API before they go public. The rest of the world will probably build the things on top of it that “communicate what it's good for.”

  3. You
    enjoy the super-Scoble-Multi-Life™
    you are a communication powerplant. a super-human-aggregator, a wave.

    I find it hard to keep up with mail & chat & social networks.
    (unlike you I'm rather picky > just 30 Facebook friends)

    Since I'm not you I welcome aggregation within this select
    group very much, it seems natural.

  4. You
    enjoy the super-Scoble-Multi-Life™
    You're some kind of communication powerplant,
    You truly are a super-human-aggregator.

    I find it hard to keep up with mail & chat & social
    networks (unlike you I'm rather picky > just 30
    friend of Facebook) so I welcome aggregation within
    this select group very much. It seems natural to me.

  5. Being an edge case is fine, especially if it means you can stress the system.

    When I wrote what I did, I was careful to suggest that Wave is being compared most to e-mail, and that's how I addressed it. I don't believe it's a replacement for any social network.

  6. It is great that we are talking about it and debating what it is and what it could be vs what we thought it would be. Interestingly, having reread my initial post, I don't think I came off negative. I said it was innovative and very good for a first try. But I cautioned it could get busy, and that is the part that is being bounced around the Web. I like Wave, but I am more looking forward to it being a utility instead of a place to talk about itself.

  7. Google wave is to complex and overhyped. There are simular trys to create this kind of software in the 90´t witth the same result: not practical for public use.

  8. Google actually said in their demo at Google I/O (where they first showed the product to the public) it is supposed to be modernised e-mail. Nothing about Twitter.

  9. You don't have to watch them type in real time if you don't want to. The reason they included that is because they've learnt from analysing IM conversations that they take a lot longer than they need to because one person types their message, then sends, then the other person receives, reads, writes their response, sends (while the first person has to wait for a while), and vice versa. The idea of showing the live typing of the other people in the wave, assuming you happen to be viewing it at exactly the same time as they are editing/adding to it, is to simply speed up conversations. Try it and you will discover how well this works.

    It's not just document collaboration, it's updating websites (you can paste a wave into any web page using a widget, and it will auto-update whenever the wave is updated). Robert could write each of his blog posts as a wave from his wave client (Google aren't the only people providing these, by the way – it's an open protocol so anyone can), and edit them if necessary. Replies/comments could come in as part of the wave too, so he can manage all of them in one piece of software, along with any other public conversations on the web that he's been participating that are also part of a wave, as well as his privates one with his family, friends etc., maybe with some cool tech PR peeps, or whatever.

    Also there is the wave playback/review facility which I don't think I've seen anywhere else done in the same way (literally works like playing a YouTube video, but not in the confines of a stream of video/audio – instead all of the updates that have been made, so you can step through them, like you might when you're debugging code).

    There's also the whole concept of wavelets, which are the updates within a wave – info at – and waves and wavelets each individually belong on a server, like a web page, or a Google Doc. This means companies can run their own wave server, just like they currently run their own mail servers, but now all communications within a particular conversation are managed/grouped/linked all together (as a wave), instead of disjointed individual e-mails that get messy etc. and mangled between different e-mail systems.

  10. Sorry Mr S, you're usually always on the money with stuff, but I think, as has already been said, you are coming to it from completely the wrong angle. It is NOT supposed to be a public social networking/discussion tool like Twitter or Friendfeed. If anything it's the private messaging/groups part of Facebook, and you're not supposed to be involved in hundreds of waves (conversations) at once. It's for REAL people who only communicate with, say, 100 people, and not all the time. Think how your parents, for instance, who aren't an Internet celebrity like you, currently use e-mail.

    Watch the demo video from Google I/O when they first introduced the product – *that* is how it is supposed to be used (as it stands).

  11. It's a shame to see so much dismissing of Wave based on the frontend, when the backend is the interesting part. The frontend isn't trying to be an upgrade to email or Twitter, but perhaps the backend is trying to be an upgrade to HTTP?

  12. I think Google would rather Wave be an email killer than a Twitter killer.

    If email were new and you exchanged email addresses with everyone you could, and then everyone proceeded to sit at their computers and just send random emails for several hours, it would be completely overwhelming too. (Wait–did I just describe an office?)

  13. Can’t we just slowly enhance things already known. I think Google Wave is too much of everything. It consumes loads of time, maybe better spend with family or people you can look in the eye.

  14. What a stupid comment, who said Wave was meant to compete with Twitter or FriendFeed? Why in your retarded mind everything has to resemble Twitter or Facebook or some other new generation web tool?

    Or instead, why don’t you try using Twitter for collaboration purposes? It’s stupid, it’s not what the tool was meant to do.

  15. Testing is making it seem like machine guns…. People are logging in and expecting something that “is better than” or “is like”, your not going to find that. In real life people are usually only communicating with a small group of individuals and there is usually a definitive reason or goal for the communication. Right now you don’t have that because everyone you know can’t use Google Wave…. so there’s nothing to communicate about other than wave development or testing a couple of the example plug-ins. There are no real word tests you can do, unless you persuade some people to help… at first everyone would just jump in… Use your imagination when thinking about what you can develop for people you know or people you do business with…. not random people talking about nothing… however controlled correctly it will bring forums to the next level I think the best mindset to have for an application for google wave is 1-5 participants.. not 40-500 like we’re seeing with the test… and of course those waves are going to be brought to their knees…

  16. I just watched an over an hour long presentation on Wave, as I’m a developer of social media websites. It’s junk. Unlike most of you all, I’m aware that only us this small, closed group of nerds will ever appreciate or care about this thing. For the average person, Wave is just way too overwhelming. When confronted with overwhelming things, a person will do one of two things: try to understand it, or write it off. Trust me, no one is going to bother with the former.

  17. you’re such a fucking hypocrite. It’s unbelievable. Didn’t like my comment about you being the only one to realize following 30,000 people wasn’t smart. Free speech on the net, but not on old Scoble’s blog LOL. I think the only people who follow you, are people who are just as dumb as you are.

    You know why so many people hate you? Cause you’re a parasite infesting the tech world with mindless drivel. What really irritates me is that it’s so self-serving, you make me want to vomit.

    Scoble for CTO of the USA, HAHAHA. Now that would be dumb.

  18. Let me give you an example of how I am going to use wave, so you are not confused about what makes it so revolutionary (at least to me). I am in a band, when were all together with time to spare we were writing songs all the time, having a really great thing going on, but then life happened and we all got busy as we started to have more demanding jobs (music is something that we are not banking on to supply us with enough money to live). For the past year we haven’t had much luck finding time after work to get together and play and write music. First of all because we live across town from each other and one of us is only on a bike, and second to really get a good session going it takes consistence, it has to be happening regularly. Google wave will allow us to all be working on the same project looking at the same things, we can post videos and sound clips of ideas pictures or scans of written music, response is fast enough and hopefully the creative process will flow nicely over each wave. We can go back and make notes and change parts of the song because its always a work in progress, and best of all no information gets forgotten when we all take a brake from looking at it, even if its dead for a month we can come right back into it and start right where we left off. Each time we want to work on a new song we just start a new wave. Now this is just one of the ways I will use wave. Hell I am thinking about how great it would be for collaborating on a screen play or anything else like that. This is not some stupid twitter thing (utterly useless to most of the population) or FriendFeed(even more useless). This is going to be a VERY powerful tool for me, and I’m guessing most people will find their own use for it.

  19. What a shame you got selected to try WAVE….I would have loved to had the opportunity because I really LIKE Google and appreciate their efforts! Some people don’t get it!

  20. Critics of Wave should be required to state up front that they are lifelong Google haters, just so we understand their vitriol.

  21. Critics of Wave should be required to state up front that they are lifelong Google haters, just so we understand their vitriol.

  22. It seems impossible to invent something new anymore, because people want to know what application it's intended to kill or compete with. Geez.

  23. It seems impossible to invent something new anymore, because people want to know what application it's intended to kill or compete with. Geez.

  24. You always draw more attention to yourself when you find fault. So no one out there sees the extreme beauty in late-entering a multi-threaded conversations and being able to hit a PLAY button to witness how it unfolded rather than playing the “scroll” game?

  25. This isn’t a consumer product, this is Google’s answer to Microsoft’s SharePoint Team Services for small group collaboration.

  26. As you point out above Robert, the innovation that can take place using the Wave API is worth looking at. Especially worth looking at for a narrow set of use cases, as noted by Sebastian. It'll be super-uber powerful for a small set of apps like rapid focus grouping, robot guided structured collaboration that's a step up from Google Docs and as a small trusted group content basin, eg for organizing and viewing funny youtube videos – you can have a mini reddit clone in a Wave. Because it can hook into the rest of the web it'll also be ideal for certain commenting systems, new forms of blog/content posting that permit a few or many to edit/contribute, and as a public-facing wiki-ish depositorium powered by a combination of apps/robots/widgets.

    Google knows that Wave is no big app killer at the moment. They are risking this uber-early release in order to foster as much API innovation as fast as possible. The real story here is this very aggressive developer/prosumer strategy. Google is betting that Wave can power a narrow class of new productivity/comm apps. Rather than building all of those out, they are hoping to tap the power of the masses, a trend driven by convergence and compressed product cycles that should continue.

  27. I always understood wave as an addition, replacement maybe to e-mail and as that it was always pitched by google. Use it with friends, coworkers etc. – but not with everyone.

    So, taking it from that point – do you give your phone number or e-mail address to everyone? Do you have email chit-chats with everyone on the internet about topics nobody cares (like for example about what kind of service email is, like you do it now on wave)? Woudn´t you get overwhelmed by all the incoming e-mail responses? Do you reply to every incoming spam mail?

    Why do you use a service for the wrong things or overexpect and therefore overhype a service and then complain, that it does not deliver what you expected? I don´t get it …

  28. Of course in Scoble-speak this means hurry use it because it will be bigger than Scoble predicted..:)

    Who pigves there email address to everyone besides Scoble?

    Other products growing bigger than Scoble's mind view point:

    Android Mobile OS Platform

  29. Precisely as I warned You're welcome. ;-) Other funny observation: it appears that you've gradually become gatekeeper to the Mercilessly Ready For Prime Time world, Robert, rather than the envoy into the Look What Might Possibly Be Cool In the Future world that was sort of your roots. Am I wrong? Not criticizing, just noticing. ;-) If accurate at all, wonder if was intentional (legitimate loss of patience with all the “yeah it COULD be” crowd) or something else. Thanks as always for the relentless discovery leadership.

  30. “See, the first thing you notice is that you can see people chatting live in Google Wave. That’s really cool if you are working on something together, like a spreadsheet or a Word document.”

    I think that is the primary use case for Wave. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to bootstrap collaboration in a new collaborative service like Wave.

    It requires a critical mass of your collaborative team to agree to migrate to the new service. It also means you need to abandon what can be years of content and start with a blank slate or for the new service to provide power import facilities. At the moment, it appears Wave requires the former: starting from a blank slate. I personally was surprised the initial public alpha did not include better integration (at least a one way import) with Google Apps Premier for access to GMail, Contacts, Docs, and Sites.

    New collaborative tools need powerful export facilities as well. They must recognize that even if a collaborative team successfully migrates and adopts a new service, it still needs to provide the resulting content to consumers outside of the service in traditional formats (eg. Microsoft Office, PDF, Web Pages, EMail, etc.)

    Wave's underlying XMPP-based technology looks promising, but for Wave to be successful, it needs to address the adoption logistics.

  31. Somebody had to use the metaphor first of a wave “crashing” against a rocky shore. ;-)

    For this reason alone, I took his “negativity” with a grain of salt. If I were Google I would be absolutely thrilled with this blog post (and the Louis Gray post here… + the Jacinta and Jesse post here….

    Oscar Wilde said “The only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about”. Robert would be persona non grata at Google only if he completely *ignored* this launch.

    This is dream coverage…at least with the long and lively comment section.

  32. I think you may be overreacting about the overhype. It’s obvious everyone is excited about using Wave right now, and it sounds like most of the topics are about Wave itself, so I’m sure the overuse and overstimulation will end once everyone gets used to using the service.

  33. If one can shut off the IM capability, or at least pretend not to be at one's desk at any given moment, it would cut down on a lot of real time overload, but I'm concerned about spammers crashing their waves on everyone's beach.

    The natural result of Twitter rules would be that, if you don't follow your followers back, the best of them will unfollow as they approach their 2000 follow limit because they'd be otherwise boxed in. IMHO one is not using Twitter properly if one doesn't follow back everyone he cares about keeping as followers.

    So I would disagree that Robert misused Twitter before he got “overloaded” and then started to use Twitter properly when he unfollowed everyone.

    If Pepsi did that, it would hurt their brand. They follow everyone as we have to as well (the 60% that aren't outright spammers). @UnitedAirlines is only following 1200 of 36000 potential customers back and that may be a huge mistake. Do they really think that the dissed people are going to think “We understand. United needs to see everything those 1200 VIPs write.”

    Who actually tries to read their Twitter river (not a stream after you follow 100+)? If one wants to read a selected stream, there are plenty of filter apps for that or one can open a new account, make it look respectable enough not to be blocked, and then follow the select group of ppl you want to keep track of.

  34. I agree with a lot of the comments already posted – you seem to be comparing Google Wave to other things when really it’s a whole new animal. The whole point is that you have to learn how to work differently. So, naturally your productivity is pretty low now.

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