1st Impressions of Google Wave ~ an Australian Perspective

Posted on October 25, 2009



I first heard in detail about Google Wave when I listened to an interview with Google Maps & Wave co-creator Lars Rasmussen @larsras on the #abcnightlife program http://bit.ly/BrAs0 http://bit.ly/BcbUw I found it a very inspiring story. Wave is the work of 2 brothers Lars & Jens Rasmussen and it was built with an engineering team in Sydney, Australia. They started in 2007 after launching Google Maps in 2005.

Google calls Wave an “online tool for real-time communication and collaboration.” 100,000+ invites have been given out worldwide and it’s still being developed.

I was lucky enough to be offered an invite from Kristin Rohan – @KristinRohan @TheSassySEO.

I headed over to the Googleplex right near the water at Pyrmont, not far from the Harbour Bridge. Google HQ Sydney. Geek Central. Inside, I liked how there were names of towns throughout Australia printed on the walls.

There were about 8 geek girls amongst a crowd of googling guys at the Google Wave Sydney User Group #gwsug which is the Twitter hash tag to show the twitter stream. Some of us tweeted throughout the event. We used Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox to see Wave on our laptops.

Googleplex, Pyrmont.

Google Wave Sydney User Group. Googleplex, Pyrmont. Photo by Ben Xu @gadgetfarmer

The first presentation was by Brett Morgan @DomesticMouse:

“We had fun tonight. I had people editing my presentation while I was presenting it. Very distracting. But we did have thirty odd people in a room of sixty odd actually using Wave.” http://domesticmouse.livejournal.com

Then Pamela Fox, who works for the Google Developer Relations team supporting the Google Wave APIs, gave a rundown and demonstration.

@pamelafox: the wave user group is an awesome cluster f*ck of people in a room trying 2 learn wave together. best training ever?”

As you can see, http://prezi.com/i6jilpzy79rh there are robots (bots) and gadgets for Wave. The geeks were criticising Pamela for her inconsistent interface to Google maps. She showed how Google Maps could be used in Wave to co-ordinate locations for the Sydney International Food Festival.

Tony @Hollingsworth tweeted: “#SIFF getting a mention: @carmr @frombecca @kcarruthers: @pamelafox showing a Wave/Map/Trip Planner gadget full of win!”

“@ianlyons: Google Wave helps people engage in things they care about & make decisions faster, particularly when not everyone is in the room”

“@AlisonVanHees: Really like some of the bots that have been created for wave. imdb, pirates, sudoku very interesting to see potentials.”

I’m no geek but I brought my lap top and I had my Techno Dream Team: @justbecos Tony Cosentino on one side and @GadgetFarmer Ben Xu on the other.

L to R @komradshaneski @pamelafox @franciejones @justbecos @gadgetfarmer @hollingsworth @edmundtse

L to R @komradshaneski @pamelafox @franciejones @justbecos @gadgetfarmer @hollingsworth @edmundtse ~ Photo by @Alisonvanhees

After a fun and exciting night at the #GWSUG I have this advice/suggestion to anyone: Grab the gmail account for your personal name and business name and any variations on a theme, if you haven’t already done so. Our @gmail.com names will automatically become our @googlewave.com names. So if you have _________@gmail.com then you will automatically get ________@googlewave.com when you get your invite to join the Wave. So don’t worry about getting your invites, there should be plenty next year. In the meantime, make sure you have the gmail account names you want.

Google “gmail” and click on www.mail.google.com New to Gmail? It’s free and easy. Create an account. Grab your gmail accounts guys.

I started using email with Hotmail, then Yahoo! and couldn’t be bothered changing again when gmail came out, so didn’t bother. What a pity. My personal and business names have been taken, so I had to think creatively.

Google Wave is currently in a limited preview. To  Request an invitation. http://bit.ly/2lwnYc

On our Wave, there was a discussion about the name and word Wave. Does ‘wave’ make you think about water, things coming at you from space, the greeting of waving hands at someone or a Mexican wave in a crowd. Is it the term that was used in firefly when they were talking about communicating (radio and other forms)? A Wave is a noun and to Wave is a verb.

I like the word Wave because it can have so many meanings and it’s like art, it’s up to the perceiver. We can wave to each other, we can ride/surf the waves on the net or ocean, or use radio waves. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh talks about waves being like our emotions which come and go but will always remain water. One of my favourite pieces of art is The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, a woodblock print created around 1831 by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

The Great Wave, by Hokusai

The Great Wave, by Hokusai

I’d be interested to know how the name came about, to hear from Lars & Jens. There are so many dreadful words on the internet eg. blog – see ‘My * 1st * Weblog’. I’m very happy they chose a name I really like. I also like how Lars, Jens & the Wave team live in Sydney and surfing waves in this sunburnt land is pretty Australian. I think about the wave patterns in the sand which the wind makes in the desert. It’s such a cool name. It’s very Australian to me.

I’m a Sydney girl and I reckon the Google Wave team are here to stay too. We’ll have some of the best brains in the world coming through our Arrivals gates. On the Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009 (below), at 17.05/1:20:11 they show photos of “the hard life Down Under.” What a great ad for Australia which is going to reach a well educated well-off section of the world’s population. So far it’s had over 5,600,000 views.

At 45:55, Lars types in www.google.com.au There is so much Australian content. At 47.20 Lars does a Google search for Australia.

On Stephanie Hannon, Product Manager’s (P.M) page at 24:40 there are references to Hyde Park, the Hunter Valley, the City to Surf, Manly Beach, they spell Newtown New Town but we’ll forgive them for that.

I think that having the Google Wave team based in Sydney is a massive win for Australia. It opens us up to leading edge thought and technology world-wide.

I told my lawyer, “If we had been on Google Wave with all these emails going back and forth, it would have been much easier.” I’m excited because it means cleaner, easier communication instead of masses of group emails with bits added underneath each other.  Women are going to love it, I’m looking forward to using it with my girlfriends instead of messy group emails where someone can get left off. We’ll be able to reply to each other’s topics/threads simply and the people who start in the wave won’t get left off.

Here are some Videos:

What is Google Wave?

Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009:

with Google Wave team Lars and Jens Rasmussen, Product Managers (P.Ms) Greg “Dr Wave” & Stephanie Hannon. Warning: This is long 1:20:11.

Lots of people can edit the same document at the same time. You can see others in the Wave typing live and even if they later delete that text, you can press “replay” and untangle the way the wave was chronologically created and edited. It’s like watching someone think.

On the video, it shows a spell checker which finds the spelling of a word in its context and gives options eg. “Can I have some been soup” underlines been in red and offers the alternatives of bean, beer or been. 45.20 “Icland is an icland” automatically becomes “Iceland is an island.” Being an English teacher, I’ve tried this a few times, but Icland has remained an icland.

You can have a “Twave,” a wave of tweets: 58:12

On the video, the Wave team are on stage in blue Wave T-shirts and jeans at the Google Wave Developer Preview. I like how Geeks can be quirky and different. The lovely GoogleGeekGirl Pamela Fox presenting had thongs and a T-shirt on with blue and blonde hair. Not a conservative corporate look in sight. Probably smart as a rocket scientist.

Google Wave Overview:

Greg @doctorwave & Stephanie Hannon @Twephanie attempt to tell you what Wave is in only ten minutes. They explain how to playback the wave, put photos into the wave, how to update your Twitter from Wave and use up to 40 different languages to communicate on Wave.

It’s so cool. At 3:06/7:52 there’s a photo of Lars & the Google Team having a picnic at Bronte beach where I grew up and where we had the #sydgeeknic recently.

“RT @pamelafox This is possibly the most hilarious video of Wave– and actually shows a sh*tload of features: http://bit.ly/4vfQAR ” <- Google Wave Cinema: Pulp Fiction

Introducing SAP Gravity, a Business Process Modeling Tool for Google Wave:

This explains how Wave can be used in business.

Google Wave: Live collaborative editing:

Google engineer David Wang explains how collaborative editing through concurrency control and operational transform work in Google Wave. This is basically for developers/programmers. Geekspeak to the max.

Apparently there have been waves with thousands of people, the main limitation is concurrence.

Articles/insights on how other people are using GW:

“Innovation: The psychology of Google Wave”:


Google Wave First Look:


What problems does Google Wave solve?:


Google Wave, transparency and engagement:


Google Wave: First Impressions from Real People, Not “Experts:”


SAP’s Gravity Prototype: Business Collaboration Using Google Wave:


Warning: * GeekSpeak Ahead *

http://sites.google.com/site/gwaveextensions/extensions-list You may need to understand GeekSpeak to read this Unofficial Google Wave extensions list.

http://wave-samples-gallery.appspot.com Unofficial Google Wave extensions list.

http://is.gd/4s6iW Extensions and Gadgets.

I’ll never been a Geek in my mind, that’s a term for programmers & developers who speak Geekese. I have a friend who lives in the Mountains who can barely use email. When I wrote to them saying, “I’m just looking at your house on Google Earth,” they wrote back, “You are well down the path of becoming a full blown geek. And stop spying on us, try the house next door you might catch her naked in the garden. Ha ha.” I guess it’s all relative.

The world has gone mad and it’s so fun to be riding this wave on the net.

On a serious note, old style email is relatively private compared to this new technology eg. Twitter and Wave. There’s potential if people are not careful, for big mistakes.

The smaller the distance on the computer monitor and the fewer clicks needed to connect, the greater the space for error. I’ve heard of people sending emails to the wrong people. Now, there is so little space for error between waves.

On Twitter, when Direct Messaging, if you forget to put D @______ and accidentally drop the D, then it goes out for the world to see and even if you delete it, often someone picks it up and RT retweets it quickly.

Australia is a creative country with internationally recognised film makers, actors and writers. For years people have talked about the “brain drain” as Australians with brilliant minds have gone overseas. New thinking, new ways. I like people who don’t think like the crowd. That’s what being an individual is about. It’s about the mind and how people think. If you’re alternative you don’t usually get lauded in Australia. Australia doesn’t have a great track record with cherishing and nourishing innovators at the leading-edge of thought.

Architect Jorn Utzon had a hard time having the The Opera House completed because of politics. In the medical world, people consider you to be crazy if you don’t follow the conventional way of doing things. Professor Barry Marshall discovered that a bacterium, bacterium helicobacter pilori, not stress, is the cause of stomach ulcers back in the early ‘80s. No-one would believe them. Dismissed as obsessive, Warren found a kindred spirit in Barry Marshall. The two had to fight a prevailing orthodoxy, but it was the most revolutionary discovery in gastroenterology in the last quarter of a century. Nothing else of that dramatic nature has exceeded it.




In 2005, Professors Robin Warren and Barry Marshall won the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

20 years ago I was called a Greenie for being environmentally conscious and it was a fringe derogatory term. Dr Bob Brown, Senator and the inaugural Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens was awarded the Australian Peace Prize recently. Brown was among the 1500 people arrested in Tasmania in 1983 while protesting the construction of the Franklin Dam, which would have drowned the pristine wilderness of the Franklin River valley, as part of a hydroelectricity project. He spent 19 days in Hobart’s Risdon Prison.

In 1990, I went for a 10 day walk in the wilderness in Tasmania and Bob Brown offered to carry my heavy pack up the Western Tiers on Day One.

There’s a massive shift, the world is changing. Without computers now, many of us wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. Who would have thought that humans would evolve to spend so much time in front of computers.

As Robert Kiyosaki says in his online book www.ConspiracyOfTheRich.com about the invisible revolution, “The world of the Internet is invisible, and we have to see it with our minds. And that is why people are being left behind. They cannot see the changes that are remaking their world. In their blindness, they are becoming obsolete.”

“Dr Buckminster Fuller once said that when change went invisible, the speed of that change would increase exponentially- a concept he termed in an article “accelerating acceleration….

““… As the information age grows, no longer will the rich and powerful nations have a monopoly on the world’s true natural resource- our minds. In the invisible world of the Internet, the genius of the world will be unleashed, and class lines that are centuries old will be erased. A new mega-rich will arise.” (Kiyosaki Conspiracy of the Rich 2009)

There is so much potential for positive change. I’m an educator with three degrees and I want to share my knowledge with the world. Parents at home can learn online >>> and make life better for themselves and their children. It’s like a wonderful dream and I think it’s great that Geeks have made it possible.

@FrancieJones: @hollingsworth you’re right saying that the internet has the potential to bring happiness to many & to spread positive vibes throughout the world~

Some of the Google Wave Sydney team are:

@googlewave is the Google Wave Team’s official Twitter name.

Lars Rasmussen @larsras Look at who he’s following and you’ll see some Google accounts.

Stephanie Hannon @Twephanie

Greg Delesandre @doctorwave

shane stephens @komradshaneski

Pamela Fox @pamelafox

Posted in: Sydney, Technology