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Jamey Sharp @jamey

I wrote about the 2010 rise and fall of Google Wave, and lessons we can learn from their attempt to roll up email and chat and wikis into a single federated tool: jamey.thesharps.us/2018/02/16/

· Tusky · 25 · 24

I have to admit, I really enjoyed the ambition and sheer absurdity of google wave: you could nest waves in other waves, all with different privacy settings

@jamey Oooo, I remember getting interviewed about Ars about doing one of the first RPs on wave.

::sigh:: I wish it had caught on. I loved it.

@DenubisX Nice! As I said, I'd very much like for something resembling Wave to be widespread today.

@DenubisX I'm not sure Wave as it actually exists today would be a good replacement for Slack in nearly any regard; anything that is better in it is probably due to using XMPP underneath, so I might go with "Jabber > Slack", except Slack honestly has better usability than any Jabber client I've used. But the principles, ideas, and goals behind Wave? Those I strongly agree are way better than the ideas behind Slack, and I want to see new projects pick them up.

@jamey My view on Wave was the same as many others who had tried it. The ideas were good but the implementation was bad. Instead of making something stable they seemed to be focusing upon adding yet more gadgets.
@bob @jamey

I haven't yet read your summary, but when I tried #Wave, it was confusing. No one knew what it was trying to be ("it is neither fish nor fowl", one said), so I quickly found that I couldn't get any of my contacts to use it.

@lnxw48a1 @bob That was one of many issues raised in the Ars Technica post-mortem I linked to midway through, but I guess I didn't really cover that angle when I summarized them. I hope you will read what I did write though 😅

@jamey this is very, very good. I hadn't thought about levels of scale in communication (irc vs. emails vs. blogs) but it makes perfect sense.

@federicomena Hooray, I'm glad that came across clearly! Thanks. 😁

@jamey Well written!

I actually enjoyed using Wave, even if it was just for fun. A friend of mine too used Wave in a Serious Manner, the way your friend used it, and it served him quite well in grad school.

I might be remembering things differently now, but I believe Wave was somehow seen as sort-of a social media product (like Buzz), and that was fatal. That too confused at least some people.

Many doomed current and past Google products would have lived just fine as non-Google products.

@sajith Thank you!

I don't remember first-hand how Wave was marketed (I only have vague recollections of trying it out), but after reading up on it again yesterday, I agree: I do get the impression that Google expected it to function as a social network too.

What do you suppose it is about Google that kills these projects? Can we learn more from their mistakes? These days I'm sure a big part of the problem is focus on ad revenue over user needs, but I don't think that was as bad in 2010.

@jamey I don't quite remember it either! These days Google's consumer products get TV and print ads. Back then I think must be via blogs, word of mouth, and tech press coverage.

Google-scale companies can't invest in many small-revenue products -- that would be a distraction. Some products will never see the kind of adoption that they want, and that is OK. Reader's death resulted in some smaller but good-enough-as-small-business successes, such as Newsblur. I am fully on board with that.

@jamey Perhaps Wave would have worked well as a commercial Slack competitor, instead of a dead Apache project. But of course that is just hindsight wisdom. :-)

@sajith I guess then the question is why smaller companies didn't see Wave as an opportunity. Novell and SAP tried, apparently, but their market is enterprise customers. Nobody seems to have tried Newsblur-style selling to individuals.

@jamey I don't know. It could be that nobody saw a potential business in Wave.

Or it could be that VCs would not fund companies that attempt to create small-scale businesses out of abandoned Google products. There's the stigmatic "lifestyle business" label to small sustainable ventures.

Or it could be because people reason along the lines of "if Google could not make this a success, who are we to even attempt this?".

I can only speculate. :-)

@jamey Thanks for the writeup. I loved Wave back in the day and actively used it till the end. Google had high expectations for it and, consequently, set the bar for a successful adoption rate way too high. I agree that interop was a problem but I don’t think it was the key problem. If they had kept it running longer with iterative improvements, it would have picked up more and more users through word of mouth, it didn’t need to be a swift revolution, it could have been a slow-burn revolution.

@me I might say instead that it *should* have been a slow-burn revolution; I'd say that's the only route to commercial success without throwing huge amounts of money around; and that one way to describe Google's failure is that they didn't take steps to allow for a slow-burn revolution. I think you and I are approximately in agreement here. 😄