November 3rd, 2009
If you are one of the lucky few who scored a Google Wave account, you’ve probably logged in, fumbled around a bit, probably were impressed by the instant nature of it — and you probably got annoyed relatively quickly at Wave’s slowness. If you have enough friends or colleagues who have invites, you might have gotten a peek at Wave’s potential as a collaboration tool.
For journalists, collaboration with the public on news events is the (Google) wave of the future. I wrote about Wave’s potential for journalism for Media Bullseye. If you don’t know what Wave is, here’s a good blog post that explains Wave, written by Omar Gallaga, a colleague of mine at the Statesman.
Having played around with Wave quite a bit, I was ready Tuesday to experiment a bit with Wave’s potential to report and discuss the news. So, I set up a new wave, called it “Austin News”, put out some ground rules and then publicized my experiment through Twitter. Within a few hours, we had more than 100 people talking (mostly) about local news in the wave.
I even embedded a poll to let people say whether they planned to vote on Election Day. Someone went in and edited my poll question to add “or have already voted” since the polls had been opened for a few hours by then:
In five hours, the Austin News wave generated about 70 individual comments, or “wavelets.” The wave overall was a bit slow, somewhat hard to follow and a little buggy. (I couldn’t get a photo to appear, and I think it is because I tried to upload too large of a photo, clogging the system.)
I did, however, see some great discussion; I posted a link to the Texas constitutional amendments that are up for a vote, and people immediately began discussing why anyone should care about them, which are the the most important ones and why. I dropped in topics a few times throughout the day, from the election to the launch of the Texas Tribune to some local economic news. I included links to our stories. People discussed each item as they came in.
There is potential here.
Waves get overloaded after about 50 wavelets, or messages, are added to a particular wave. I’m going to launch another wave tomorrow (a daily edition of waves, of sorts) to keep them from getting too overloaded. I imagine Google will speed this system up quite a bit before opening it up to the public.
It was the first of many experiments on Wave. I’m excited to see where it leads.
- Robert Quigley
If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions, please leave them as comments below!