Dear Lars, next time don't stop doing that weird drug

(This is a note to Lars Rasmussen, who just left Google to join Facebook. While at Google he developed Google Wave, which I hated, but which I did see brilliance in. I think it’s sad that Google didn’t invest more in it).

Dear Lars,

I get that you were hurt by Google canceling Google Wave.

But at Facebook please don’t stop doing that weird drug you were doing half way through the project. It’ll go better.

Let me explain.

Google Wave +was+ brilliant. It was obvious you did something new and fresh (hence why I said you did +some+ weird drug). Here’s what you invented that was very cool: you brought the world an infinite strip where people could write, put videos, photos, or do other things. Anywhere on the strip. All at the same time.

Freaking brilliant.

But then you stopped doing that weird drug (this isn’t the first time I’ve told you this, either, remember my post the week Google Wave shipped?). You started wondering how you’d get adoption. I can just hear your team saying “well everyone already uses email, so we’ve gotta make it look like email.”

That’s where your project derailed. Next time don’t stop doing the weird drug.

See, email is one of the least productive tools we have. Yes, everyone uses it. That doesn’t mean it’s very productive. For instance, I still have to wade through tons of spam. Guess what? On Facebook they don’t have spam. Why not? Because, unlike Google Wave, only people who I’ve friended AND who friended me back can send me messages. That’s how Wave should have worked.

When I started Wave I had tons of Waves I didn’t ask for.

Noise control is our NUMBER ONE CHALLENGE. Be part of the solution. Do more of that weird magical drug. Don’t do another environment that works as badly as email, OK?

But, now, you also made some other significant mistakes with Google Wave.

You voted against sharing. That’s cause you stopped doing that weird drug and started thinking all corporate like. Stop studying those users who still think Windows XP is a modern operating system, OK? They will mislead you. Instead, keep doing the drug and learn the webby way to do things.

Everything we do needs to be shared. Everything.

If you think there’s something that we won’t want to share in the future, question whether you are doing the weird drug or whether you are back in the normal world again.

Google Wave didn’t have permalinks. WTF?

I sat next to a VC at the Defrag conference a year ago and watched him use Google Wave, along with dozens of other people. It was magical. It was like we discovered a whole new world. One because you discovered some weird new drug.

Then I saw him write something interesting that I wanted to share with my readers. My Facebook friends. My Twitter followers. My Google Buzz buddies.

But I couldn’t. You had stopped doing that weird drug. You had started thinking that your world was an enterprise world that looked like the one that Sharepoint or Word cohabit. Please don’t make that mistake again or else I’ll have Mark Zuckerberg take you on one of those famous walks around the building he does. Only when you get back you’ll find the doors locked and your security badge turned off.

Please go back to the ideas that brought us that infinite strip. It was magical. It was like you had a new vision, based on some weird drug we all weren’t doing.

Next time, don’t stop. Keep going and don’t look to the past for ways you’ll get adoption or acceptance.

And Google? Shame on you for not recognizing the brilliance that was in Wave.

Can’t wait to see what you do at Facebook Lars. Just keep doing the magical stuff and build it in the web way. If I see signs that you’ve returned to the world of normal people again I’ll be very sad. Please do more of that weird new drug. Thanks!

Oh, and if you have some extra next time, can you share? Love the new world you saw a glipse of, hope to see more of it soon.

Comments

  1. Ah! Now this is the @scobleizer — arguably the Father of Social Media– that I always tell people to remember when The Great One Himself sometimes forgets to Take The Weird Drug. We all do it. We forget to TTWD. My reaction to Lars’s departure was very similar to yours, and generalized for The Google as a whole: “Stop Chasing Social” http://goo.gl/oZRv … just Keep Being Social! When everything you do is Simply What You Do and it’s Open; that’s “Succeeding at Social.” If I’m interpreting this correctly, I am in 1,000% agreement, Robert; too many corporatized conceptions of “social” are screwing things up and wasting millions on campaigns and contraptions that look social-ish yet completely miss the core point. Keep taking the weird drug http://j.mp/ToDreamTheImpossibleStream :-) That’s not to say we don’t also promote super hardcore practical crowdsourcing tools like http://www.Freelancer.com … it takes both. I think maybe things get muddled when one tries to be too much like the other.

  2. I was entranced by Wave much longer than you Robert. I struggled and tried javascript and convoluted wave id wordpress blog wave embeds to share what I saw. Eventually with the slowness and inability to share I gave up. I mostly left because my shared “wave guide” kept dying and I couldn’t recreate it (1600 members broke it).

    You lost me at the mock threat of having Mark fire Lars.

    1. To confess my ignorance, I don’t understand how Google Wave doesn’t exist any more. I’ve never used it, but I can still access it and start a new wave. Any thoughts Kenneth or Robert?

  3. Wave was a great product, and sure it was adored and used by, not relative to Google as a whole, a large number of users. However, it wasn’t something people needed. Nobody needed an email replacement. Very few people needed realtime collaboration. Honestly, that was the real problem. The “problem” that Wave “fixed” was a problem that VERY few people have. It’s sorda like Justin.TV and Ustream. Not EVERYONE wants to livestream. Sure, there are a lot of people who watch, but they don’t really count in this comparison because Wave doesn’t have anything to offer people who don’t want to livestream (read: Wave).

  4. “See, email is one of the least productive tools we have.” I have to disagree. It’s still the primary tool I use for in depth conversations on the Web. Gmail weeds out 99.9% of my spam (I got dozens daily).

    At the same time, having no spam on Facebook’s private messaging system is the one thing I miss about Facebook.

    1. Just because you use something every day doesn’t mean it’s very productive. I have to dig through tons of spam and messages from people I don’t care about. Yes, Gmail rocks compared to the others, but Facebook improved the system (and made it worse in other ways) through its two-way friending.

  5. Great post.

    Wave was a great concept and I do agree that biggest pitfalls were around trying to get Adoption. For that, people needed to “fit” this new “thing” into pre-existing notions (is it email? blog? forum? etc).

    Since people couldn’t “place” it, they didn’t know how to approach & use it. As happens with many great new things, this is where you have the biggest challenge to keep with it. Keep perfecting your vision where you want it to go, while spending every waking moment telling people that they Don’t Know What’s Good For Them.

    So, whether we call it the New Drug or just visionary fever or what-have-ya, you do need to keep doing it.