I attended a Google Wave presentation done by Jay Cuthrell at the Triangle Social Media Club meetup at iContact on Thursday night. I was anxious to see how someone would try to explain Wave to people who had never seen it, and also anxious to see their reactions. The night turned out to be even more fun for me as I got to participate in the show-- I got to do the driving from my own Wave sandbox account for the demonstration.
Jay did a nice job explaining Wave, and hit all of the major talking points. He stayed away, and rightfully so, from the business of building your own robots and applications. It was, for the most part, a talk aimed at non-geeks.
My take-aways (and some affirmations):
The elevator pitch: There are no shortcuts to an "ahhh hahhhh" moment. Most people have not watched the Wave demonstration video. The 1.5 hours required to watch it is more than most people want to commit. If you haven't watched the whole video, and even if you have, Wave is hard to understand. The demonstration last week was an hour long. That's not long enough for people who are watching, and not actively using it to get-it. I was sitting with @chillnc, one of the smartest and most clued-in people I know. After the demo he started asking some really good questions. It was clear that he had come away from the demo thinking Wave was one thing. After a couple of good questions he realized that it was also something completely different. Even after experiencing a really excellent demo Wave is hard to get your arms around. Many of us who are getting to know Wave pretty well are still struggling with the elevator pitch.
Control freaks: You all know the person-- the one who when the moment they speak you immediately know the opposite is true. Well one of those persons (for me) was in attendance. This person is your prototypical IT control freak. The one who starts talking about things like system requirements, privacy, Sarbanes-Oxley... This person reacted pretty negatively to the whole Wave concept. So, for me it was an affirmation that Wave is going to be big--very big. A game changer.
Your first Wave experience: The interface to Wave is a bit intimidating for people who haven't seen it before (which is almost everyone because people won't watch the demo). I still think that Wave will be quickly adopted by current Gmail users. For them the interface will feel comfy. There were several at the demo, however, who reacted negatively-- you know, bringing up their mothers and all... Seeing it versus using it is a different experience. BUT, it occurred to me during the demonstration that most people's first contact with Wave will not be from using it directly: loading Wave, logging in, and fumbling around. Instead, you will experience it embedded in some specialty application, maybe an e-commerce experience, and you won't even realize you've been Waved. You will use Wave because it provided some geek with a quick and easy way to implement some new and cool idea, and it will be much like using any other web application. It will be a gateway experience. You'll touch it once in some obscure place, touch it again and again and again, and before you know it you'll be hooked on the Wave way of working. I've been flooded with my own ideas on how Wave could be used. If I'm having these thoughts my guess is that a whole army of people, smarter and more creative than me, are busy right now building a ton of stuff that will change your world.
Now I need to catch a plane. It's funny how the blogging urge hits me at the worst possible moments. I reserve the right to edit this post later in the day. It's my blog. :) Have a good day!