Busy in Babbage these past few nights, and the typist busy at the office during the day, I've had little time to go through my usual Journal production function, and my backlog of content has run dry. Consequently, while waiting for other obligations to end to give time for some new content creation, I'm doing a little soft-shoe to keep the attention of the audience. A few tidbits...
I try to hit a post a day - something I may rethink in the future - to keep both me and any actual readers entertained. Even so, I know I'm not the most prolific person out there. But Miss Emilly Orr astounded me with a remarkable four entries in the space of an hour!
The Value of Social Networks
While I’m sitting here, procrastinating – dash it all, another New Year’s resolution down the tubes! – I check some favorite blogs. Then Twitter. Then some more blogs. If I had a Facebook account, I’d probably check that, too, along with a half-dozen other social networking sites. Fortunately, I have the discipline not to join any of them, because I’d just add another 15 minutes to my routine of screwing around before I get to what I was planning all along.
It’s clear to me that these sites excel at inducing people to waste their time. What's less clear is what positive purposes they serve, and whether those purposes could be achieved better some other way. Twitter allows quick news updates (and I'll define "news" broadly - anything from the Haitian earthquake to a new concert by your favorite performer), announcements of new blog entries, links to Aetherweb sites, and, no doubt, things I haven't imagined. But it's new, and some people are trying it out to entertain themselves, while others are trying it out to market whatever they have to sell, and who knows where it will all end up. These experiments are useful, even if specific ones fail.
Which brings me to Google Wave. I know some residents of the Steamlands are in the beta - I'm not - and they surely have a better handle on what Wave is useful for and where it doesn't move the ball, but let me offer an observation. When I first read the description of Wave, my reaction was that I had no idea what it did. That's not a good thing for a product. Sure, something about collaboration, and e-mail but better, and so on. I understood all the words, just not how they fit together. Then I saw an article called "20 Real-World Uses for Google Wave". After reading it...I'm still underwhelmed. Yeah, some of the uses sounded interesting. At work, the typist collaborates (occasionally) with others, and some of the tools sounded neat for that. But let's look at some of the other items. "1. Keep in touch with friends." Really? We needed another tool to do that? "2. Share your photos." Ditto. "3. Share files." C'mon, guys, do better than that. Again, collaborative tools are nice, at least for a fraction of the population, and having a substitute for an in-house ListServ would be great (the typist's homeowners association could benefit from that, too, though I can only imagine the rancor that could occur). But "9. To-do lists"? I do not want a collaborative to-do list. "16. Chat room." And so on.
Well, maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about, and it will be a great success. And even if it's not, as I said above, trying out new things is good because who knows what will turn out to be useful? Still, it would be nice for the Googles to communicate a clearer vision for what they'd like to do with the product.