I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation into Google Wave shortly after the initial 100,000 invititations went out last month. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed and did not really know where to begin or what to do. Bwana was kind enough to engage in a real-time wave with me, and show me around a bit. Afterwards, I began to see the potential. However, I think there are many reasons why Google Wave still is not ready for prime-time.
Google Wave does not have any sort of access control for managing waves and wave participants:
- Anyone can be added to a wave by a participant in the wave.
- Any wave participant can add a bot to the wave (because bots are simply treated as participants).
- It is not possible to remove participants (except for bots) from a wave.
- Anyone can modify any part of the wave.
Here is what I think Google Wave needs to implement to resolve the access control issues:
- Allow the wave creator do add/remove any participant from a wave.
- Allow the wave creator to assign/modify the following permissions that can be set at the wave and participant level:
- Permission to add bots to the wave.
- Permission to invite other participants to the wave.
- Permission to remove participants from the wave.
- Read-only or read/write access to the wave.
- Permission to grant/modify each (or all) permissions for other participants and/or the entire wave.
Without access control, things can quickly get out of hand if you are trying to work on a collaborative project that is only intended for certain people. Even if you do manage to maintain control as to who has access to a wave, you may only want to allow certain people permission to perform certain functions.
Image Credit: Brandon Lowery
When you click on the Manage contacts link in Google Wave, you are taken to Google Contacts. Unfortunately there is hardly any correlation between what you see in your Google Contacts and what you see in your Google Wave contact list. Although everyone in your Google Wave contacts list has a @googlewave.com “address” (it is not an email address although it looks like one), within Google Contacts you’ll see no addresses with googlewave.com.
If you want to remove someone from your Google Wave contacts, you have to remove them from your Google Contacts. This may not be something you want to do, as you may wish to keep them in your Google Contacts and remove them from your Google Wave contacts or vice versa. Either Google Wave needs its own contact management, or Google Contacts needs to incorporate functionality for managing Google Wave contacts.
Image Credit: Hannes Grobe
If you deal with multiple groups of people when you communicate via email, mailing lists are absolutely essential. Google Wave has no way to group your contacts together to build the equivalent of mailing lists. Without such a function, you have to manually add each and every participant you want on a wave. Not only is this a major inconvenience, but you may omit someone that needs to be a wave participant or add someone that should not be a participant.
Google Wave needs to implement groups. Perhaps it can be incorporated as part of the improved contact management I’ve suggested, or implemented as a separate feature. Regardless, it should also become a part of access control. That way access control can be set and modified at a wave, group, and participant level.
Image Credit: lumaxart
You cannot expect someone to abandon a very well-established legacy technology (email) without providing reverse compatibility and legacy support. The world cannot and will not just drop email in favor of Google Wave without an interim solution that supports both technologies. The fact that Google Wave addresses do have the same appearance as email addresses does seem to indicate there may be plans to allow Google Wave accounts to receive email.
It is very inconvenient having to check communications from multiple sources rather than having it all in one place. This is the reason why I have all my email forwarded to one single Gmail account. I also take advantage of the Gmail feature that allows you to send email from other accounts.
Google Wave needs to incorporate features to allow users to send and receive email if it is to receive the kind of wide-scale adoption Google seems to believe it is capable of achieving. If I could just forward all of my email to my Google Wave account, receive all my communication in one place, and send emails from Google Wave as well, I would seriously consider using solely Google Wave.
Image Credit: ePublicist
Revision control is absolutely essential for working in a collaborative environment. The need eventually arises where it is necessary to revert to a previous version of a document. Wikis provide this capability as do a variety of software development source control solutions. Google Wave needs revision control.
Google Wave does have something resembling revision control with the Playback functionality. However, you can only see the progression of a wave from start to finish, and you cannot revert to any of the frames in between. It would appear that some of the plumbing is already there for revision control, it just needs to be implemented.
I’ve seen many situations in public waves where revision control was needed. Sometimes someone unwittingly adds a bot that overwrites the initial blip, wiping away hours of hard work in the blink of an eye. Someone may also intentionally sabotage a wave, removing a lot of valid and important information that must subsequently be manually recovered or rewritten.
It would be best to have revision control in Google Wave at a blip level, rather than at a wave level. One may wish to revert to a previous version of a blip within a wave, without losing the changes that have taken place within other blips and the rest of the wave.
Image Credit: VisualPharm
Google Wave is a good tool for communication and collaboration. It has many impressive features and capabilities. However, as you can see by the headings in this article, the problem is that it is lacking many key features for wide-scale adoption. Given that the current Google Wave is just a preview, it is likely that these missing features and others will eventually make it into the final product.