I’m not an early adopter. I really am not. Maybe to some of you, or to some industries, but in the tech world, I’m always the guy showing up a few months or so after the party. I was the 10,000th (ish) user of Twitter. I didn’t get an iPhone until the 3G. And when Google Wave came out, I immediately dismissed it, the way many people dismissed Twitter when it first came out.
And then I saw the light.
I went from a guy who hated Google Wave to telling Kodak’s CMO on stage yesterday that Google Wave would be the one app I’d ask to salvage if I could only save one app running today. So how? Why? What’s that about?
There are two things I’ll do with this post: explain what “the light” is to me on Google Wave, and then talk about this thing we do with new technologies.
Google Wave has been described as different things from different people. It’s been called a replacement for email (I don’t feel that way, but it’s a replacement for one way that we use email). It’s been called Google Talk on steroids (even less so). It’s been called Google Docs for groups (closer).
Google Wave allows for multi-person collaboration. It’s an easy way to work out plans and ideas and concepts with a group of people. Once you start ( here are my first feelings about Wave), you go from total uncertainty to sharing some tips to wishing it did some things better, to using Google Wave for task management.
I’m using it to propose a new book with Julien, to propose a different book with (can I tell them? You tell me later), to hammer out the details of my new soon-to-be-revealed company, to start a side project with a good friend, and several other collaborative efforts.
The “light” is that this tool is better than email about going back and forth, and also, if you use it well (I’m learning to keep the “blips” at the top as the “gold” stuff, and use the blips below a certain point as the “chatter”), then you’ll see obvious and instant reasons for using it. But if you have no obvious collaboration project to try it on, it doesn’t immediately make sense.
In a way, it’s like being given a new device that not many people have. It’s just not useful. (See the network effect.) So, once you get some collaborators and once you get a project rolling, you’ll immediately see the value.
How We Process New Technologies
We process new technologies the way we consume most everything in our lives: “what’s in it for me?” And from that, we also ask, “Why should I change the way I am?” The “escape velocity” of the status quo is often too high to care about and as such, we don’t really feel the urge to switch.
Why should I check out Twitter? It just looks like people talking about their cats. I’ve got serious work to do.
I joke that there’s this cycle where we write a dismissive post about a tech, and then we write about why we ended up falling in love with it about 30 days. This post is that in a way. I used to really crap on Google Wave, and now here I am praising it.
Should we dismiss tech right off the bat? Probably. Should we revisit again? Yes. I think as business people, it’s just not in our best interest to follow every shiny objects. But should we stay open to reconsidering a technology after a fashion? Absolutely. Without this last part, we close ourselves to potential new improvements to our process flow. Imagine never adopting email. Imagine never getting a cell phone. Communications technologies like this are important, and do change how we do business.