A number of posts ago, I felt compelled to defend Google‘s (then) newest tool against a barrage of what I deemed to be hasty criticism. Feel free to refer to that post for some context if you wish. The crux of my argument was that because we were teachers, we were used to just making things work and that we had already developed solutions to the things that Google Wave was supposed to solve. Well, some time has passed since I wrote that post and I have actually had the chance to work with, or attempt to work with the Wave. Much to my dismay I find myself doing the exact same thing that I wrote about in the last post, developing work-arounds to make Wave work the way that I said it was going to in the two hour introduction video. Let me give you an example. Recently I have been trying to collaborate on a project with a couple of colleagues from the PLN. All of us are in different time zones, and I wanted to insert a calendar into the Wave so that we could come up with common planning time that we could all be available. This should be simple right, Google also has a great calendar program that we all use, these two software programs come from the same family tree, I should just be able to embed a calendar into the Wave. I mean I can embed a calendar into any website with just a simple snippit of code, this should be easy, right…WRONG! Google does not make a gadget for the Wave that embeds Calendar, and the third party ones I tried not only did not work, but were laden with ads. So what do I end up doing? Creating a Google Calendar and sharing it, just as I would have done before the Wave even existed. How has the Wave helped me in this circumstance? There are a number of other examples of this exact experience, including the work-around for using Google Docs in a Wave, which essentially involves inserting an iframe into the blip and embedding the Doc in that. A solution, by the way that is just essentially sharing the Doc the traditional way but on another website.
I wouldn’t bring this up now, but Google just released the new, new thing this week, while Wave is essentially the exact same tool it was when it was first released. Oh, wait I forgot, now you can make public Wave’s read only. I was hoping after Google’s acquisition of Etherpad that there would be an influx of new features, but that was a while ago and it hasn’t materialized. The main reason that I am griping about this is because I believe that Wave is a tool with enormous potential for helping people collaborate and get some work done. I know that Google wants to compete with Facebook with Buzz, but the bottom line is that Facebook is so entrenched in society and commerce at this point that if they changed there logo to a baby punching a puppy, people would shrug there shoulders, create a group denouncing the new logo and continue to recruit people for their mafia families. So Google please, continue to develop great and free tools that all educators can use, forget about social networking, and fix Wave!