Catching the Wave

Posted December 6th, 2009 by wonko

Having time to play is a rare thing, so when my Wave subscription arrived, naturally it arrived in the most inopportune time – dang nab in the middle of marking.

Having a procrastination capacity like no other, I put aside all the things I was supposed to be doing to play with Wave and it struck me as familiar. No, I have never seen a tool like it, but underneath, the platform reminded me of something I have been using for years.

Each wave is like a room, in that it has a sense of place – somewhere you can go. You can invite people to visit and contribute via rich media tools and if you arrive late, you can replay those interactions to see what has gone on before. Wave participants can add or use existing smart objects (widgets, gadgets, thingies) in the wave, and they can build connections between waves.

This synchronous room-based architecture is not new, this sort of multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) has been around since the early 90’s – back then it was called a MOO. From what I can glean, wave is a modern incarnation of one. This is evidenced by the number of RPGers, MMOers and non-linear story tellers who have rushed to use it as a companion (or indeed a platform for their passion).

Comparing it to a MOO is not a derogatory remark, actually it is high praise indeed – MOOs are constructionist, constructivist collaborative powerhouses that offer education immense benefits – will Wave be as successful? I guess it depends on a few things. Stability of the cloud it works in, availability to the general masses, ability to control griefers, the growing toolbox of smart objects that can be used in a wave and education of users on how to use it.

There’s the rub – a powerful tool should not be confusing but wave initially confuses and the examples and interactive help dumb-down the potential making prospective users think it is merely a modern incarnation of email when it actually has the potential to be so much more.

I look forward to development and general adoption, interesting times ahead.

One Response to “Catching the Wave”

  1. wonko

    Have I done anything “educational” with it? No. I am still at the “wrestle with the metaphor” stage – some things make instant sense, others less-so.

    I have learnt how to play chess asynchronously, play with chatbots, add widgets and gadgets [but have yet to identify any easy way of searching for them].

    I know there are already HUNDREDS of interesting waves out there, many public, but I have no easy way of finding them – another learning curve, but one that is sorta fun [a lot like boogie-boarding down the face of a perfect wave … now there is a metaphor 🙂 ]