A few days ago I joked that Google Wave has a lot in common with Dungeons & Dragons. The next day Google announced it would abandon Google Wave.
After reading responses to Google’s announcement I got the impression that half of Wave’s potential users didn’t know how to use it and the other half, the one’s who were willing to figure it out, couldn’t find other people with whom to make it up as they went along.
The latter problem suggests an alternate rollout. Google said they intended Wave to replace email. While email is undeniably useful for work it’s also, like all communication, a form of play.
Perhaps, Google could have introduced and refined the concepts of Wave by presenting it as a way to play and nothing more. Such modesty would have ruffled feathers but it could have stimulated valuable and relatively low-cost development from the public at large.
Google has famously out-sourced some of its development using millions of “beta testers”. Why it didn’t do so with Wave, a product as open-ended and thus deserving of social development, is, to me, an interesting mystery.
previously: Facebook as a MOO.