Collaborating on Google Wave

People are surprised by this, but there was a period that I checked my email just once a week a la Tim Ferris (Amazon). This was during my gap year when I was working and although it annoyed various people – my boss, a guy I worked with, some of my friends… I didn’t have a cellphone and had temporarily quit Facebook as well, so to be fair it was fairly difficult to get hold of me. However, I found myself to be much more productive. I missed email, but realized it’s a displacement activity. I check my email between tasks, before tasks, during tasks when I’m bored or distracted.

Since I went back to university checking my email once a week has become impossible. Worse, though, even checking it once a day is infeasible because I’ve been using email as a collaboration tool, and it’s just not something it does well. I’ve tried to move to Google Docs, but that just means that I create a document, alert people I’m collaborating with by email, and wait. Sometimes I have to email a reminder to get them to look at it and then I’m checking my email – and my Google Docs account. Then maybe we discuss what we’re working on via email, even if the thing we’re working on is in Google Docs. In the worse case, the only thing saved is keeping the working document up to date.

I got my Wave invite early on, and when I used my invitations my priority was to invite people I collaborate with, whether that’s for socializing, WISE, or academically (my supervisor got one, for example – we’re ditching email for Wave). The invites finally came through and I’ve now had my first “Wave collaboration experience” and it was awesome. I have to write an outline/blog post for a project we’re working on. I added our VP communications to the Wave and wrote it, then she came in and made some corrections. Underneath the section we were editing, we had a short conversation about what we were working on.

Then, well, I cut and paste what we’d produced into an email because the other person who needs this isn’t yet on Wave. But still – significant improvement.

Screenshot below:

Wave Collaboration Screenshot

This is awesome; it’s what I hoped Wave would be good for and I’m finally starting to experience it. I don’t see it replacing email, but I hope that once more of my friends and the people who I work with are on Wave I can replace email with Wave to communicate with them, and email will be reserved for more formal things that I don’t want to be real-time, like university notifications, inquiries from students and job hunting – and I can cut back on checking it, perhaps to once a day? That would be nice!

I am out of invites – please don’t ask me for one.

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