Wave challenges us to reevaluate how communication is done, stored, and shared between two or more people.
Point taken, since I watched the video of the demo done last spring I too have been smitten with the potential uses of Google Waves. First and foremost it is a communication medium. Second of all unlike email, there are no local, unsynced copies of the text/multimedia threads. Instead everything is central like an old style bulletin board, newsgroup or collaborative wiki. And like a wiki revisions are kept and can be “Played Back” to see how things have evolved over time. For people recognizing the limits of emailing attachments to accomplish this goal of group editing, the benefits far outweigh the barriers to entry. I was hoping to get an invitation into Google Waves, but haven’t yet received one. Of course if I do get invited, the problem of the Fax Machine will crop up. I will need to find someone else who I know well enough to collaborate with in order to try it out. And hopefully there will be a ready and willing audience when I do finally get an invite.
As far as how much better is Waves versus email, it depends very much on how you manage your communications already. Are you a telephone person or an email person or a face-to-face person. All these things affect how you will perceive the benefits of a persistent central store of all the blips and waves you participate in. I think Google could help explain things even to us mid-level technilogically capable folks who are still kind of bewildered by what went on in the Demos at Google Developer Day. But this PDF Educause has compiled will help considerably. The analogy I’m using now is the bulletin board/wiki/collaborative document example. Sometimes it’s just easier to understand something in comparison to something you already know/use/understand.
PS: Finally got an invite from Google Waves about two weeks ago and went hog wild inviting people to join in. If you want to include me in a Wave add me to your list as: firstname.lastname@example.org. Early returns from sending invites and participating in some experimental Waves has shown the wild popularity dying down quite a bit. At one point we had 8 participants in one single Wave. Trying out some of the add-on tools was interesting too. But the universe of add-ons is pretty small at this point. Hopefully Google will get that third party development effort going in high gear. As far as the utility of the Google Waves, it is way too much like a super-charged glorified bulletin board. It doesn’t have any easy hooks in or out to other Social Media infrastructure. Someone has to make it seamless with Facebook/Twitter/Gmail either though RSS hooks or making the whole framework/interface embeddable or linkable in other websites. As always we’ll see how this goes. They need to keep a torrid pace of development like Facebook achieved from 2005-2007 improving and adding membership to the Google Wave Universe.