I have been fortunate enough to have Google Wave for the past week now, and despite the occasional crash I appear to be getting better. Here are my thoughts on its use so far.
I keep on crashing Waves when I embed a link or picture. I have not managed to embed a webcam for video conversations yet.
Alison Gow does reassure me that this is normal, and I think that once Wave has passed the testing stage it will work much faster and I will have less of a chance of breaking it.
Google Groups V Google Wave
As a tool for future journalism I believe it has fantastic potential. For example at the moment my online course at Cardiff is using Google Groups to communicate.
This does work pretty well but it also means we have about 40 different emails from the group clogging up our inboxs every day. This can make it confusing to follow who has said what, but more importantly it is wastes of time.
At the GTAC conference last week over 50 developers and engineers live waved during the presentations. This meant that rather than having a silent audience, each speaker could see comments and questions on his/her presentation as he/she gave it.
It also means that there is now a record of each presentation with comments, which each developer can go back and look at.
I believe this was the first time that Live Waving has taken place, but it offers great potential, and great fear for journalists.
UGC and Journalists connecting through Google Wave
The public could add UGC, correct your spelling and add extra links to your story while you were writing it. This would completely open up the fortress between the public and journalists.
Journalists from different news organisations could collaborate on stories, for example a Live Wave between BBC journalists, Al Jazeera journalists and live UGC content has great potential to produce a wide variety of content on stories like the Bagdad bombings last night.
With Wave being completely open sourced the viewer would still need journalists to authenticate and balance content.
My current experience and problems
At the moment I am only waving two people because I only have a limited number of invites. However this does still allow me to experience Google Waves problems.
Firstly the program can feel very intrusive. Since you can see what is being written in real-time, spelling mistakes, typos and bad grammer also appear . Another “waver” can correct your spelling after you have written it.
I often write 3 or 4 drafts of most paragraphs before I am happy with a piece of writing . With Google Wave all these incarnations can be made available to the group. This is where it is important to have private waves and public waves.
Another problem is that the instructional videos in Google Wave are made by engineers, and as a result I sometimes get lost and confused when something doesn’t work.
I have crashed 4 waves trying to add a Sudoku robot and still don’t understand why. I don’t believe this is a serious problem since as more people use this software, Google will become more reactive to their different needs.
Not all broadcasts are suited to complete transparency between journalists and the audience, but where it is possible Google Wave can offer an innovative solution to removing fortress journalism.
Programs like World Have Your Say already show how important and productive it can be to give audiences making editorial controls and imput into broadcasts.