Google Wave has potential for journalism – but that’s all it is right now

First of all, I’m not going to explain Google Wave, lots of others have already done that. But I’m here to say it’s worth a look as a potential new tool for journalists.

It’s a combination of the features associated with a Wiki, email, message board and chat room with options to add interactive features like maps, polls, videos and images. So what does that mean for journalists? Potentially a lot.

Depending on how Google Wave develops before it formally rolls out to the public, it could become a solution to many technology problems facing newsrooms (and tons of other businesses) today. It has the potential to become an invaluable tool for internal and external communication and collaboration.

But right now, that is just potential. I’m not going to be tell you there are no downsides – there are plenty.

1. Right now, Wave isn’t public. You have to have been invited to experience it as it is still in “preview” mode.

2. So far, Wave has a high learning curve. When you finally get in, it isn’t immediately obvious what it is used for, what the buttons do or how to even get started. And even though instructional videos and manuals exist, not many people are willing to jump through that many hopes just to use a new web program.

3. In preview, at least, Wave is buggy as all get out. The much-ballyhooed “playback” feature rarely works. It is incredibly slow to load and navigate. Because every character you type is public in a Wave, it seems to slow everything way down. For instance, I just watched a sentence I typed go in character by character, over a two-minute time span (yikes).

4. It isn’t easy to teach. If you, like me, have taught very basic web applications to reluctant  digital immigrants with upsetting results, you dread the idea of teaching this to your newsroom. I have nightmares just thinking about it.

But all of these cons I noted are about Google Wave right now. They’re still working on it – and I have high hopes it’s going to improve dramatically before it goes fully public. If it doesn’t, it’s going to be chalked up as a failed experiment and forgotten.

I have a lot of ideas I’ve either dreamed up or found on the Interwebs about ways journalists can use Google Wave I’ll be posting soon. For now, here are some resources you might find helpful if you’re trying to figure out what Google Wave is.

  • The manual: The Complete Guide to Google Wave is a wonderful, simple guide to the tool. If you don’t get all the ins and outs of the Wave (who does?) and you don’t want to sit through the whole video explainer, try this. Check out the Meet Google Wave section for some great suggested uses.
  • More: Where else would you got to learn more about Wave’s potential than Mashable? Scan over their coverage for good ideas.

And, if you’d like an invite to Google Wave and don’t have one, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

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