I could have titled this post Google Nation or The World of Google, but Google is just moving too fast for any such almost-clever title to be stale the instant you say it. But I am feeling sort of Googley all over–how about you? It’s obvious, and not a cliché, that Google is everywhere; looking at previous posts shows that it can dominate on this blog.
Anyway, I have been fighting the urge to keep talking about Google in bits and pieces, but I think there have been enough new moves to warrant a look at them right now.
Wave created a firestorm with its invitation-only opening. People were begging lists and groups and social networking sites for an invite, and those who secured bundles of invites (I received 20 by virtue of being in a particular group) were deciding how to distribute them. But all the noise caused by the initial wave of Waves had died down. I never hear anything on mine, and part of that is because you need to find the right Waves to follow, and that is not as easy as it sounds. Most of the ones I’ve followed have turned out to be chaotic explorations of the technology with little direction. I did participate in one short experiment in collaborative storytelling, which slowed to a stall after a few days.
I think Wave will flourish under the radar, now. It will be the small collaborations and experiments, not the Waves with hundreds of followers, that find its strengths. What might those be? I’m not sure if it will be informal, real time collaboration on ideas or more structured real time collaboration with documents and other tools, but I think the opportunity to do it in real time may have advantages over asynchronous collaboration, as in the traditional Google Apps.
Google Buzz entered with less fanfare because it was just there all of a sudden, and you didn’t have to beg, steal, or barter to be invited to it. You just needed a Gmail account, and there it was in your list of folders. But what was/is it? Well, it’s a stream of posts, not emails, even though they are in your email! It’s kinda like Twitter, but you can keep a thread going, like a discussion board. It’s kinda like Facebook, because you can post links and media right in your thread, and you can Like a post, with a smiley instead of a thumbs up. It’s kinda like an aggregator or feed of your own stuff, because you can have all your posts to other places fed into it–there’s the public Flickr photo I just posted, there’s my WordPress blog post before anyone has read it, and there are my recent Twitter tweets–all in the same stream for me and my followers to see. Some people are carrying on long discussions–those take up a lot of real estate on your screen–some use it for photo slideshows, some of us just aren’t sure where it fits into our daily routine.
The hype with Wave suggested that it was aiming for professional opportunities. With Buzz, you get the sense that it is to be more social and light.
Google Docs Web Clipboard
Small, but very interesting addition to Google Docs is the Web Clipboard, allowing you to copy pieces of your docs to the Google Cloud. This is very useful, because your browser generally will not be able to access your computer’s clipboard.
A browser seems miniscule in comparison with the other Google technologies, but I guess if Google plans to take over the tech world, it should want everything to be displayed properly. The browser does seem fast, as advertised, but is still not compatible with all web technologies yet. Here where we use Blackboard, for example, the text editor is not fully functional, similar to the one on Safari. But the ability to add fancy header themes spurred Firefox to add the same, and I can’t decide whether it’s an improvement to my browsing or a distraction. Here’s a nice little Oscar de la Renta number:
Google in the News
I’m not suggesting this is the final post on Google. We’ve heard a lot from and about them in their tussles with China and censorship, digitizing all the books in the world and all the copyright fears stirred by that, and then there is the Google OS that might be poking Microsoft in the ribs. What am I leaving out? Well, nationwide broadband, for instance. I’m probably leaving something out, but not to worry, because there’s room for many more posts.