Some Etiqette for Google Wave

Another article with some excellent thoughts about Google Wave was recently posted by James Gurd – Will GW be the stand-out collaboration success of 2010? 

I especially liked his thoughts on the etiquette of waving:

New skills and practises will be needed to manage Waves

As with any new plaything, there is an adjustment required to get people using Wave effectively to communicate. Here are some of the things to look out for:

  • Keep your Wave clean. People can stray from purpose/goals and you need to be able to keep people on-topic and content relevant.
  • Guide the conversation, not control it. The personality behind the wave is important.
  • Learn how and when to edit the conversation. You can go back and change what you’ve written but do so sparingly to avoid disrupting the flow and retrieval.
  • Move towards greater collaboration, not individual domination.
  • Real time typing can be a threat. People worry about the impact of errors; there is a cultural shift in embracing this as real-time communication.
  • Participants need to be educated on the etiquette of waving. Understanding that conversations are as imperfect as conversations when speaking face-to-face.
  • Waving is not designed for one to one communication. This is for one-to-many and many-to-many.
  • Conversation flow can be personalised. Allow people to have a voice.
  • How do you make the right decision for the benefit of the wave? When do you leave? When do you edit? When do you need a summary? Who does this?

A lot of the initial waves I’ve read were pretty poor, basically a bunch of people talking about how cool Wave was.  The real problem being that the waves looked like a conversations, which I think is an inherent problem because of the way Wave works.   Too much “wasted talk” that is irrelevant to the subject being discussed, many blips that will have to be removed if the wave is going to be succinct enough for somebody to want to wade through it later.

 I really think for Wave to be a useful tool, users are going to have to be careful with what they keep in a wave, and perhaps with what they say up front.

To that end, I hope they add some tools for organizing wave information, i.e., the ability to collapse threaded blips, and even ways to annotate blips as you create them, say, “add conversation blip” choice, that a robot can look for and clean out of the wave say 2 days hence or something.  This would allow users to have a discussion live, but have those unnecessary blips automatically cleaned out after a certain date.

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