I Have a Good One For You: Google Wave Resurrected – Rizzoma

So here I am, minding my own business, checking out the notifications filter folder in my Gmail box and all of a sudden, I get mention of a new comment on a Google Wave conversation I had participated in oh, about a million years ago. Naturally, my interest was piqued and I, of course, much like the proverbial cat smitten by curiousity, followed the link. To Rizzoma.

Rizzoma was an existing Russian company but, in 2010, they too became smitten with Wave and started work on improving it. They started private beta of their site in January 2012. Apparently, they began allowing import of existing Google Waves in February, 2012. And, to make it more Google-like, you can sign in with your Google ID, or a Facebook ID.

If you hadn’t moved your waves over by April 30, 2012, you are out of luck in saving that matter. But, you can certainly head over to Rizzoma and start a new wave if you are hankering for that old not-sure-whether-it’s-email-chat-text-messaging-social-network-sharepoint-bulletin-board experience of Wave. The interface is quite similar, but seems stable more stable, something Wave really wasn’t. Right now it is totally free and it’s open source – let’s hope they find a way to make money or they may be going the way of the Wave. Rizzoma did their research and found that Wave users were using it for business purposes, and have directed their efforts at becoming a decent business tool. Some other cool features of Rizzoma: the ability to @mention like Twitter; the ability to open access to any link, and the ability to reply and correct a message in any place of a document. Rizzoma sports a clean interface, with a navigation pane on the left divided into Topics, @Mentions and Public, a shortcut window on the bottom left. and  a larger content pane on the right. There are also sharing buttons for sharing topics from Rizzoma to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

In all seriousness, I always liked Wave and thought it could be a very effective collaboration tool, particularly for business users. I think Rizzoma might be onto something here – taking the best parts of Wave, making it more stable and usable and keeping the vibe going. Good luck to them for sure.

If you want to see a use case in action, check out the Rizzoma video – don’t mind the robo-voice, the video started out in Russian, but I thought viewers here might prefer the English version:

Thoughts On Guest Blogging

[365 Toy Project: 032/365] Duelling Banjos
Image by nhussein via Flickr

Anyone who is anyone (o.k., anyone who follows @advocatesstudio or @constructionlaw on Twitter or subscribes to Advocate’s Studio and Construction Law Musings) probably saw our dueling guest posts this past Friday. Chris and I had a lot of fun doing it, from planning and sharing posts over Google Wave, to hyping the big event on Twitter and then following the feedback, RTs and comments throughout the day on Friday.

Chris’ My Journey Into Social Media post was the very first guest post in the Studio’s two-year history. I am asking myself “why did I wait so long?” Readers LOVED Chris’ post – what is not to love about a heartfelt, personal accounting of  the trials and tribulations over the same tools we webizens are all struggling to master every day. I feel honored that Chris chose the Studio to share this story and hope that readers enjoyed it as much as I did.

Guest blogging feels like a breath of fresh air. Sure, you make your cozy little WordPress (or Blogger or Typepad) home and deck it all out the way you like it. You get to know your neighbors, maybe share a pie and some coffee. But sometimes, it is good to get out on the town, visit someone else’s house, play with someone else’s friends and, maybe, learn something new. Or gain some new friends of your own. Share your song with a different audience, as it were. Strike up a duet.

I am now motivated to seek out and share some more social media stories from other friends and peers. With some luck, maybe I can persuade a few other social connections to open their book for Studio readers to view. Maybe it can become the start of a Social Media Mentors series, or some other less daunting title.

In any event, thanks for everyone who read, commented, shared, participated, and pushed our posts like paper boats in a current on Friday! Looking forward to more sharing and collaboration in the future.

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More On Google Buzz

Announced it yesterday, test-drive it today. I like that kind of instant gratification. I have been playing around with Buzz for the last hour or so. Do you use Gmail? Do you have a Google Profile? Just go to your Gmail inbox and you will see a little “buzz” icon right below your inbox button.

Clicking on it will take you into the Buzz stream composed of people you follow already in Google Reader or have contact with via your Gmail. The very first Buzz pane includes a little welcome to the service:

There is a standard status box at the top to be used for creating a new Buzz pane. But you can also email your post to buzz@gmail.com. You also can use the @ convention from Twitter to send a Buzz directly to a certain person. If you already have created groups in Gmail / GReader, you can send your Buzz to specific groups, via a drop down box in the Buzz pane.

You can connect external sites to Buzz, allowing it to serve as a social aggregator of sorts. When you do so, the experience starts to look a LOT like Friendfeed. You can comment on and “like” Buzzes, just as in GReader. The serial Buzz panes from your follows with likes and comments closely mirror the Friendfeed experience. In fact, Friendfeed is one of the external sites that you can import into Buzz.

As I post this, I am watching the number of new “Buzzes” in the GMail tab grow. In the past minute, over 20 new Buzzes have appeared. This kind of volume is certainly expected on the service’s first day – it will be interesting to see if the number tapers off as the shine dulls.

Once you comment or like a Buzz, subsequent updates will appear in your inbox. There are ways to silence the inevitable onslaught – there is a mute switch for posts that are particularly busy. You can turn Buzz off completely at the bottom of the screen. You always also can set up a filter for Buzz updates that routes them to another folder separate from the inbox.

I haven’t played with the location features yet, but I understand that you can get Buzz information when you point your mobile browser to buzz.google.com. Updates can be tagged with your location and you can see other Buzz posts from nearby.

My early impression is that it is an interesting marriage of email and Friendfeed. Not necessarily a bad thing, although I balk a bit at the mixing of my information sources – I am not completely convinced my email and my social networking should be intermingling in the same venue. They still serve different functions for me. Like Wave, Google may be trying to accomplish too much with a single application. Nonetheless, I am intrigued by the possibilities. If I can get over the learning curve of Buzz, it theoretically could collapse down my list of places I visit on a regular basis.

Oops. Now there are over 50 more unread Buzzes showing in the tab. Gotta go!

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Google Wave Review – GP Solo Technology eReport

I admit that I am a bit late on breaking the news on this one, but I do want to link to my article reviewing Google Wave that ran last month in the GP Solo Technology eReport published by the ABA. Already, the information appears a tiny bit dated, but that’s just the speed that the Web travels. Check out some of the other great articles too, you might recognize a few names and certainly will pick up some good information!

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Now That I Have Wave, What Do I Do With It?

I have been having a “deja vue all over again” experience. It is the experience of hearing people say “gee, now that I am on Google Wave, what do I do with it?” The hype has been focused on Wave’s deployment as a killer collaborative tool. But how exactly do you get-to-done with it?

I haven’t yet been able to scare up a real project on Wave affording an opportunity to really put its collaborative forces into play. But I swear by its potential. And now I can point Studio readers to an excellent “how to” guide by a true Google Guru, Gina Trapani of Lifehacker, discussing how to manage a group project in Wave.

Gina’s post focuses on her ongoing project – writing a book aptly named “The Complete Guide to Google Wave.” While the book isn’t being written in Wave, it is being managed in Wave. She lists various tricks and tools she and her co-author employed, including shared tags and saved searches, how to reply to a blip below or in-line with it, or how to edit the blip, how to mark a reply private, how to playback a wave, and a list of helpful gadgets and bots (those crazy add-ons that make Waves exciting with multi-media goodness).

Gina also points out that adding Google Gears to your set-up isn’t necessary but helpful for securing more complete functinality. Installing Gears and a developers’ version of Chrome were the first tasks I undertook following my invitation to Wave and I do recommend it for new (and existing) Wavers. 

If you are like me and haven’t yet been able to put Wave through its paces for a real, honest-to-goodness task, check out the Lifehacker post to cull some tips and tricks secondhand. And if you are on Wave already, feel free to add me to your conversations – I would love to chat – I’m startoestudio@googlewave.com.

Google Wave – Initiated Version

For the last week or so, I have been playing on Google Wave. I can now provide at least an introduction to a hands-on account of it for Studio readers. (Thanks Carlos!) My initial impression is that it is an engaging mash-up of email, chat, wiki and collaborative tool. While it has aspects of each, Google Wave is most definitely its own animal.

The main screen approximates an email inbox, but that is pretty much where the similarity ends. If all boxes are open, you can see an inbox-like organization at the top left, called Navigation, with familiar categories, such as inbox and trash. You can see all of your inbox or only waves started by you. Bottom left shows contacts. Middle window shows the waves in which you are participating and far right shows the individual wave you select to view. If you commence a wave, it also shows in the far right column.

Wave Screen

As you can see from the screenshot, the inbox can look a bit overwhelming. But there are many ways to manipulate it and focus on the content you are interested in. Green-backed numbers show waves with unread information. Clicking on that wave brings you into the portion where the new information is located. Waves are not time/linear in aspect, but instead appear like conversational branches – responses to individual comments attach at the comment. There can be more recent entries showing at any point in a wave.

You can minimize any of these boxes, and bring them back up when you so desire.

For me, the single coolest feature of Wave is the ability to “extensify” your wave experience. Much like adding gadgets to the Firefox browser to customize your browsing experience, you can add gadgets, robots and extensions to the waves to modify the wave experience. The list of gadgets is growing. I have used the map gadget and I recently signed up with 6rounds so that I can use their video chat gadget (will report back on that one as well – the 6rounds site is a pleasure to play around with).

The downside is that gadget implementation is not as seamlessly easy as found in other venues or on other sites. You must add gadget URLs and/or include the robot as a wave participant from your inbox in each wave you create or edit.

I know many have complained about Wave’s complexity. It is, in fact, complex compared to other on-line applications. However, I am convinced the complexity can be overcome with experience (if I can figure it out, anyone can). I also see loads of potential here: it is a great means of targeting a group of contacts and collaborating on a plan, document, or strategy. I also think it could change the way we communicate on-line, if enough people are willing to invest the time and energy to learn the ins and outs of it.

It helps to bear in mind that it is in closed beta right now for a reason. There are bugs and glitches to be expected and it is fair to anticipate Google will improve it during this process. I found that downloading a developers version of Chrome and adding Google Gears helped with some of the bugginess.

I also imagine that Google and third party developers will look for ways to address the many concerns raised by users over the last few weeks and, maybe, even simplify the Wave experience for the masses before public launch.

Overall, I am impressed with what I have seen and I have not yet been put off by the bugginess. I recommend that anyone able to secure entry into the Wave beta give it a try. At the very least, you could get involved in  the process of helping Google craft a promising communications platform that might actually make our jobs that much easier to perform in the long run.

Google Wave Extensions: 6rounds

6roundsI was going to link this comment to my original blog post on Google Wave, but I ultimately thought it best to simply copy and paste this as a new post right here for maximum visibility. From Natasha at 6rounds.com, the first video chat widget for Wave:

Hello, I saw your article on Google Wave and I wanted to introduce you to our Google Wave extension 6rounds. Google Wave has chosen 6rounds to be one of their very first 6 applications and its only video chat extension for its launch. To learn more about 6rounds platform capabilities and the Google Wave extension, you can view our press release (http://uk.prweb.com/releases/6rounds/GoogleWave/prweb2952104.htm) and check out the special page for Google Wave on 6rounds (www.6rounds.com/googlewave). I’d love to give you a deeper look into our extension and am more than happy to answer any questions you may have and elaborate on the cooperation. I also wanted to let you know that we are doing a 6 day competition for users to win 6 Google Wave invites. You can read more about it on our blog post: Google Wave invites up for grabs! (http://blog.6rounds.com/google-wave-invites-grabs/) I know that many of your readers are dying to get Google Wave invites so I hope that you will share this legitimate opportunity with the. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best Regards, Natasha

Well, there you have it, Studio readers. Go check out 6rounds and maybe you could be “Waving” by next week!
If you are interested in learning more about 6rounds, and the unique features it brings to video chat, check out the articles here and here. I will be checking 6rounds out myself (independently of Wave until I can get my own invite). If you have access to the Wave / 6rounds experience, I would surely love to get some feedback in the comments below.

Google Wave – For The Uninitiated

And that includes me. No, I do not have a Google Wave invitation yet. I have put in my application, pleaded with my friends, and even considered eBay (no, not really on that last one). I can’t give you the hands-on review from the legal mindset that you all are looking for. Not yet, anyway.

What I can do is provide you with some context if you are like me and have heard all about it, have gotten all excited to try it, but wonder what the heck it is and why should you even care.

Because I haven’t done the hands-on, I can only provide you with the  information I have culled from others among the scores and scads of on-line articles about it. Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft need only hiccup to cause a social media riot. Wave is no exception, and maybe is even more tantalizing in that it has been the subject of the months of hypeof tsunami proportion leading up to the limited edition 100,000 or so special, closed pre-beta invites that started trickling out last Thursday.

From Anthony Ha - Digital Beat

From Anthony Ha - Digital Beat

What IS it? At the core, Google Wave is a tool for online collaboration via real-time communication. According to the official Google word, the “communication” can be viewed as both a “wave” of conversation or a document. The participants in the wave or collaboration can utilize all sorts of media in the course of the conversation, offering rich, real-time sharing opportunity. Check out this screenshot of a wave here:

As you can see, waves look like threaded conversations, rather than the more traditional “back-and-forth” email model. Waves can constantly “crash” into your inbox, particularly if your box is open to all. Like a surfer confronted with too many possible rips, Google Wave certainly bears the potential to overwhelm the typical end user.

Another aspect that makes waves somewhat unique in the sharing world is their easy modification by participants, their ability to be played back at any time so that a new participant may be brought up to speed, and their fast transmission of information – you can see the other wave participants responses as they type them! The collaboration is real-time as well, due to some fancy “concurrency control technology” tools. Natural language features provide context and spelling correction. And, waves are embeddable, offering the ability to place the conversation and collaboration anywhere. Waves are amenable to the use of widgets for customizing and broadening the experience.

Without a doubt, Google Wave sounds like a might powerful tool, particularly in the enterprise arena. Imagine access to such a facile and speedy set of tools across departments or units – not only can the process be shared (like a wiki) but participants can get involved and see others’ involvement in the process right here and right now.

Sounds great, right? Well, not everyone is buying the hype. Carmi Levy at BetaNews has announced that he is sitting out the first “wave” of Wavers . Levi believes that Wave won’t be as big as Gmail, in large part due to the fact that “collaboration isn’t the holy grail of productivity.” Levi also thinks that most collaborators are not yet ready for the rocket-powered Wave: even the relatively simpler Google Docs has not broken among Levi’s peers and the emailing of Microsoft attachments remains the most popular method of securing feedback and a team result.

Then there is the question of security – while a Waver must have permission to participate, allowing anyone to edit source data tends to offend every traditional data security principle.

Robert Scoble also exhibits skepticism regarding the value of Wave as a true productivity tool. Scoble suggests that Wave represents multiple layers of unproductive tools: email, topped with chat, topped with social media, topped with features that lack an intuitive interface, et cetera. Scoble also criticizes Wave for its lack of integration with Google Docs and Spreadsheets and its tortoise-like pace. Hit the jump above for his fleshed-out discourse as to why he is not ravin’ ’bout the Wave.

Steven Hodson at the Inquisitr seems similarly unimpressed, mostly due to the difficulty he experienced ramping up with Google Wave and getting even rudimentary controls under control. He is holding his conclusions in check until he can spend more time with the tool and, hopefully, “get” the hype.

Steve Rubel opines that Google Wave, as it currently stands, is not a Twitter, Facebook or even email killer, in large part due to its complexity. Rubel believes it solves a problem that doesn’t exist, but is hopeful that Google Wave 2.0 addresses the concern and delivers on the promise.

Louis Gray’s take is not as critical, as he offers his personal experience with Google Wave here. He crafts a nice overview of the user experience, for those craving their own near-hands-on. But even he suggests that Google Wave will prove most useful for collaboration among small teams. And, reading between his lines, Gray appears to lament the fact that Google Wave is simply another place to check for conversations and information exchange, further burdening an already overburdened on-line network of email and social media outposts. It seems Wave may not be the ideal source for “crowd” conversations among large groups.

So, does my post sound a bit like the fox who couldn’t reach the proverbial grapes, proclaiming them to be sour as he quits the quest? Maybe so. But I am still hot to try Google Wave and allow my own first-hand experience to be my guide. I am guarded, however, after reading the somewhat critical reviews from some of tech’s elite. If these guys are having issues with Google Wave, how will the average tech-averse lawyer or business person manage its might? In any event, if a reader has an extra invite to pass along, I wouldn’t turn it down and might even be your best friend. ;)

Maybe you are one of the lucky few already enjoying Wave and currently making up your own mind about its utility or lack thereof. I have something for you too: a cheatsheet for Wave searching from Google itself.

Check out the lengthy Google developers preview video that follows. Or hit the simplistic video further below, linked in Scoble’s post.

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