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Monday, October 26, 2009

Not Waving but Drowning

Google Wave OK, so now I owe you two apologies. The first is for the title of this post (which I'm assuming has been done to death in the last month). The other is for writing about Google Wave, because either you don't yet have a Google Wave account and you're fed up with hearing about it, or you do have a Google Wave account and you're fed up with hearing about it.

I wanted to tell you what I'm doing with Google Wave right now. Mostly, I'm staring at it with a vague feeling that this could be useful, but I don't know what for. When I'm not doing that, I'm cursing it for having the worst user interface I've seen in a long time - why Google thought it was a good idea to carve screen real estate into tiny patches is beyond me. Presumably they've never heard of netbooks. I'm prepared to forgive Wave for a lot of things right now (like the total lack of accessibility, which is presently zero) because this is an early stage alpha product, but I'm struggling to see how they're going to overcome this defect based on the way Wave works. Maybe I shouldn't be so forgiving. Google is very fond of trotting out its tame blind man T.V. Raman, but has still managed to ignore accessibility completely. Is that an acceptable approach to software design in the 21st Century?

So far, I'm unimpressed by anything I've seen within Wave, but I have thought up a couple of gadgets I need. The first is a decent notification system built into Wave (yes I know there's a Firefox plugin, but for reasons we don't need to go into here, I don't use Firefox for Wave). The other is a Meeting Manager - I just create a meeting wave and it polls all the attendees for availability, books a location, takes notes and makes coffee. The snag with that one is that as a mere mortal who doesn't like pizza, unlike say, writing in HTML5, I'm never going to dive into python deeply enough to write anything beyond a Hello World robot.

So the reason I wrote this post is to let you know that if you don't have access to Wave yet, you're really better off because you're not missing anything. But the reason I wrote this post is I can't shake a vague feeling that this could be useful, but I don't know what for.