Waves in phase

It feels like a little like a scene from a classic 50’s SF movie.  There’s a big oscilloscope in the center of the frame. On the screen, two distinct sine waves. Someone turns a dial, then another one, and the two sine waves move together into phase. Then the next plot point appears.

I’d gotten an invitation to Google Wave from Pumpkiny (thanks!) three months ago. I’d given Wave a quick look. It was mystifying for the most part. Ellen Filgo, Baylor’s E-Librarian and intrepid pioneer in all online matters, put a Baylor Waver wave together. There are about twenty of us on there, including a few of my students from last term’s New Media Studies seminar. But when I checked in today, most of the Wave activity was dormant, on that Wave and on the six or seven others I’d been added too. It looked like we’d all given it a try and then gone on to other matters. (The exception in my inbox was one Bryan Alexander had started, a Wave about Wave–a popular genre–with some extra Wave information resources and some typically trenchant commentary from Bryan.)

Today somebody turned the dials and got the waves in phase, somehow. A faculty colleague emailed me asking if I’d heard about Google Wave. I was cleaning up email and found the one that described the official EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Wave for the annual meeting in a couple of weeks. I finally read some entries in the Google Wave Blog. I re-read the ELI “7 Things You Should Know About Google Wave” with renewed interest and attention. One colleague in the Baylor marketing/communications division emailed me with a question she’d received. I replied with an overview and links to resources. Another colleague in that division emailed a colleague in the library, then the University Webmaster. The emails were crossforwarded. The flurry of interest sent me back to Wave again, where I began to add to the public Baylor wave and soon found myself in a conversation with a fellow from Spain about dragging and dropping pdf files into Wave. (Turns out you can do it, but only in Chrome natively; Firefox and Safari need Gears installed to do it.)

A closer look, a harder look, more people in the network, a little more conversation, a few more resources, and things begin to coalesce here. I haven’t gotten my head around it yet, but I think I know more of the “it” I’m trying to get my head around, if that makes any sense.

I feel that old spidey-sense tingling. A good feeling. Wave is ambitious, subtle and bold as well. It’s a version of Ted Nelson’s intertwingling.

I’m getting interested.

6 thoughts on “Waves in phase

  1. Wish I felt the tingling. I remain convinced Wave is a misbegotten application that will go nowhere built on top of a potentially interesting platform.

    Glad to see your volume turned up, btw… I’ve been missing your blogging.

  2. “Spidey-sense” – I love it. Only you, Gardner. Like you, I’m starting to get a feel for it…but only slowly… with the help of knowledgeable others. Here’s one “reconstructed” wave that helped me – a reconstruction of what it might have been like if The Declaration of Independence writers had done so on Google Wave: https://wave.google.com/wave/#minimized:search,restored:wave:thirteencolonies.net!w%252BDvkVwkvsA
    (you play it back). The other goldmine that’s helped me grok this thing is the Educator’s Ning on Wave: http://edupln.ning.com/groups/group/show?id=4241570%3AGroup%3A322&xg_source=msg_mes_group
    waving at you….
    robin

  3. @Chris You may be right. The example of Twitter keeps me more open than I might otherwise be. Wave is like Twitter in that it depends on substantial network effects for its potential to be visible. The bigger issue, it seems to me, is that it will be very difficult for people to imagine how a conversation can also be a document, and vice-versa. My kids would have less trouble with this thought than I, perhaps, since they’re used to preserving lots of bits of interaction via chat archives, videos, etc. So you may be right, but I’m interested that I’m interested–and I’ll start to “be there” more often.

    @Robin How generous of you to send more great resources my way! The Chronicle Review article, and now these great links. Can’t wait to chase them down. There is a “grokking” involved here, even to get to the place we can judge whether there’s a “here” here. I remember how puzzled I was the first time I tried to grok “labels” in gmail. I wanted folders. I probably still want folders. But labels are more like tags, and ultimately tags are more useful than folders, because they not only acknowledge but leverage the fundamental linked-ness of the Web. I note with interest that tags play a part in Wave as well. And I think the developers may have some stuff up their sleeves that will help the grokking. Or perhaps not. Google’s got tremendous benefit-of-doubt goodwill built up, but sometimes even great Homer nods…. Still, there’s something deep in terms of tagging, collaborating, archiving, sharing, etc. that’s just over the horizon. Something I can sense more than I can see. It’ll be fraught–obviously–but it will also be tremendously exciting. Something like the day I discovered what a trackback was, and that blogs generated them automagically. A new vista of what communication and distributed conversation could mean. Whatever happens with Wave, I think they’re on the right track.

    @Jim The real test for me will be to see what my students can make of it, though as always I’ll have to be making something of it first, at least on some level. They’ll have to see that it matters to me what they discover, and they won’t believe it matters unless I’m in the Wave too. So more “being there” to come!

  4. Groupware on steroids, though “wave” may be the wrong metaphor. Yes, whither “Groove”?

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