wave and communication’s (r)evolution: better than being there?

The future of communication: one future is true real-time interaction. Being in the same room is usually touted as the richest, most effective way to “get stuff done”. This is untrue. In a face-to-face discussion, you have to wait for the other person to finish talking before you start interacting. Being in the same room is more like being in a chat room or an IM conversation. New communication tools can do it better.
[ session description ]

Jared Goralnick @technotheory
Casey Whitelaw
Daniel Raffel @danielraffel
Jay Cuthrell @qthrul
12 March 2010


A goal of tools like Google Wave is to get groups of people to work together more effectively–better than they do in real life. New tools should change what communication is and how communication should work. Casey Whitelaw puts forth three characteristics of new communication tools:


What lets one person see/touch the same thing as another person at the same time. not live: email, im, call/response face-to-face discussion. Without live communication, there is a lot of diverging (e.g., having two or more conversations within a single IM window).


Old communication is just a log of previous communication that you can only add to (email). Giving that up will increase efficiency. The important things are the question and the answer in its state at the end of a discussion. The “stuff” that we used to get to the answer just gets in the way once you are a new person reviewing a conversation. Better to just delete that meat after it is no longer needed for understanding.


Clearly and efficiently represent what you are talking about (if you want to talk about maps, you should have a map there, not a link to a map). workflow/process example of “I need your approval”.

Here’s the deal: Stop sending email? Start sending waves? What if a tool like Google Wave was the place you initiated all outgoing communication with other people?


Wave is a platform for people to build tools / extensions. “Make sure that your product is solving a real problem.” And you won’t get wave until you have 2 or 3 of those “A-ha” moments. You have to create a document or make a decision with more than 1 other person logged in at the same time. You have to figure out how to edit/delete the “in progress sausage” so that the rest of the in your wave that weren’t online at the time only see the next evolution of the document, or the new state of the discussion. Cleaning up your wave after yourself is key. The idea is to get the wave from a question to a quorum.


The amount of communication and data flowing through multiple channels into our lives is growing. How do we surf the wave of information so it is effective and simple instead of overwhelming noise?

New communication tools should be able to easily drop into and out of, accessible from all over, and encouraging collaboration (this likely helps to reduce the repetition within the noise especially if we get through the communication path quickly and all at once). The kitchen example (preparing a 14 course meal by communication in a kitchen with your voices). Are things getting too complicated, obscuring the original use case?

Paying Attention

Communication tools have to give you the ability to discern what you care about admidst the constant signal (inflow of email). There is a very strong concept of “being in the same room” provides the richest/most effective/efficient way to communicate.