But to most Internet users, even the tech-savvy ones, it’s more than a little confusing. The fact that the service is still in beta, invite-only and more than a little buggy, doesn’t help.
It’s exciting to note, however, that journalists aren’t waiting for Google to work out the kinks.
The day the search engine giant rolled out its first invitations, Los Angeles Times social media reporter Mark Milian was ready with a few ideas on how to integrate this new technology into the newsroom.
Since then, other journalists and tech-savvy thinkers have followed suit, brainstorming ways they can use this free platform for multimedia collaboration to improve reporting (I also started a Wave on the topic, which is embedded below).
Some news organizations have even gone even further by implementing Google Wave and experimenting with it hands on:
• RedEye in Chicago uses Wave to discuss cover stories with the community.
• The Seattle Times used it to organize information and multimedia regarding the manhunt for the men suspected of killing police officers.
• Tampa Bay Online plans its content in Wave, allowing editor and reporters to add and modify what’s there.
That’s absolutely outstanding, because it means the discussion jumped immediately past the useless question of, “Should we use this newfangled thing?” to a question of, “How can we use this newfangled thing?”
That represents a shift in focus for the journalism industry, and the speed of that shift is astounding.
Look at Twitter, by comparison.
Many a news curmudgeon dismissed the service outright after viewing one too many tweets about that great lunch or that funny thing the cat did.
“Twitter is stupid,” they said. “Who cares what these people are doing 24/7?”
The judgment then was all too often on the content of a relatively new service, not on the potential value that service could provide. Technology, after all, often becomes most valuable only after it’s widely adopted.
In just a few years, the mindset of this industry swung dramatically to a state of adaptation. With each new tool that becomes available to us, we’re now asking how we can put that tool to use to more effectively do our jobs.
That gives me hope, and a little bit of confidence.
Now that we’re asking the right questions, it will be easier to find the right answers.
Interested in chiming in on the Wave? Contact me with your Google Wave address and I’ll add you to the list. I also have a few invites to give out to journalists hoping to try out the service.