Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 1, 200910:58 PM

Killing Something Before It Even Begins

Let's face it: when a new way to communicate and connect comes along, the mass population is quick to dismiss it as clunky, not functional, and not superior to existing channels.

It probably has something to do with the way us humans are wired, but when something new comes along, we're quick to compare it to what came before it and even quicker to dismiss it if it does not immediately overwhelm us by being so glaringly obvious. It's not hard to think back and remember the mass amount of negative reviews and press Twitter got when it first came out. That was fairly recent. You can roll back the clock and see that we were quick to negate everything from television to the fax machine and from the telephone to the personal computer. It's classic and we just keep on doing it.

It happened again today.

Google launched their highly anticipated new communication and collaboration platform called, Google Wave today. It's not open to everybody just yet (much like their staggered release of Gmail, you need to receive an invitation), but several key Bloggers and media people are already neck-deep in creating their own waves and inviting those they know to dive on in (pardon the pun). In brief, Google Wave is being heralded as "an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more," according to the Google Wave website.

It seems to be confusing most people who are using it.

Comments like, "it's not as efficient as email," "seeing all of those people typing and chatting in real-time can be confusing" and "this is not a Twitter killer" or "I can do a lot of the things in FriendFeed already" seem to be common complaints. But, they're all revealing that critical flaw mentioned in the second paragraph above. At first glance, if something is new and unique it's going to immediately cause us to recoil or shrug our shoulders. Nobody wakes up in the morning and wants their existing patterns changed (don't believe me? try moving the coffeemaker to a different location in your office every morning and let me know how long you live). After the shock and awkwardness of the newness, and as people settle into a more regular routine with their new applications and platforms, that's when the "a-ha!" moments start to happen.

Before you go drowning Google Wave, give it a moment to really sink it before passing judgement on it. Inevitably, we all wind up back-peddling on those initial reactions as we begin to realize that the reasons we were chastising it are the exact same reasons that make it so innovative, new, different and relevant.

By Mitch Joel