Google Wave for photographers

(Last Updated On: October 25, 2009)

Is Google Wave going to benefit photographers?

It was about 30 years ago the personal computer was introduced to the average home. They were very cool for the few that cared.  I recall writing a funny little quiz program on our shiny new Apple IIe to entertain my parents. I also remember clearly that many people weren’t sure what to do with this promising new home appliance.

I remember one family member suggesting we put our recipes on the computer, but wasn’t quite sure what else we could do with it.

About 12 years later the World Wide Web came along and people asked: Why bother? They said we can read a books, check the Yellow Pages or make a phone call for the same information.  It’s just a fad.  When Twitter debuted in 2006, people thought it was just as stupid.

This month many of us are scratching our heads once again with Google Wave.  Is it for chatting? Is it an over-the-top wiki?Or, is it a powerful, e-mail-killing, collaborative tool?

Can we actually do without e-mail?  Ask a teenager for the answer.

Google wave

Google Wave is a real-time application using many of the skills we learned in social media.  On Wave you can chat, collaborate, create polls, share photos and play games in real time.  It’s nice that you can compile your project information in a single wave (think of a wave as a collaborative or interactive document). Participants may be added at a later time. They then can catch up by looking back in time and even responding to past blips (comments).

For photographers, Google Wave will be many things.  Thanks to Twitter and Internet advertising we’ve learned how to develop information and media streams without having to read every word, line or post.

Photographers already are developing informative waves focusing on various topics. I have to give credit to David Sanger for the first successful public photography wave. Some waves are purely for sharing images. The New Media Photographer wave is about photography, social media and Google Wave.  It’s a public wave for photographers to test and receive feedback.

Unfortunately, once a wave hits about 300 blips it really slows down. Wave is only released in preview or beta format; the bugs are being worked out.  I would assume that a majority of waves will be private, designed for smaller groups and rather short. But, if waves are to become popular public entities, speed will have to be addressed.

Here are a few helpful things I’ve discovered in my early days of exploration that are worth sharing.  First, watch the available videos. (I’ve also posted below a good features video from Google.) Remember, we are all trying to figure out Google Wave; it’s not running perfectly at this point, not all features are engaged and much more is to come.

You must have an invite from Google to join a wave. Many people have been sending me their gmail address to join our wave, but a majority don’t have an account yet.

If you wish to make your wave public,  you need to add [email protected] to your contacts and add that [email protected] to your wave.  Your wave will then be searchable by other users within Google Wave and may join your wave without being added by you.

How do you search for waves?  You need to type with:public in the search box and all the public waves will be displayed.  Without it, it will only search your waves.  You can then refine your search with:public photography or with:public Nikon for example.

Wave has a chat client, too. It’s called pinging and works just like a large wave, but in a traditionally smaller window designed for fewer people.

If you wish to upload your photographs to a wave, you must have gears installed, unless you are using Chrome.  You can’t use gears on Safari or Internet explorer.  Currently, we’ve only used Firefox and Chrome browsers with success.  Chrome seems to be the least troublesome.

So far, I see people using waves like forums, wikis and chat clients. Others are taking advantage of the extensions, conducting polls or playing games of Sudoku.

Every time you click on a wave you automatically become a member.  Plus, if you are in someone’s contacts, they  can automatically add you.  The number of waves added over a week for active users can be overwhelming.  Make sure you take advantage of the folders to organize your waves.

Better organization methods will have to be developed in the future.

Being from Detroit, the word Edsel does pop into my head once in a while. I still have questions and discoveries to make about this. We all do.  Even the developers of Wave haven’t thought of all the uses.  Very smart people will start adapting this technology and developing applications that will amaze us. I have confidence.

As a photographer, I can easily see how I could use this technology to manage jobs, collaborate with clients and associates.

My biggest criticism is of  the reviewers talking about how Google and supporters have over-hyped this service. My answer to that: It’s the technology, stupid.

We are applying applications and practices to a technology we don’t fully understand.

This is the same mindset that thought Twitter was stupid while trying to use it for chat among their closest friends. This is the mindset that thought blogging was just about telling the world what you had for lunch, multi-level marketers thinking social media was the answer to their prayers, and early personal computer owners looking at their electronic boxes as  $1,000 appliances designed to store  cookie recipes

We don’t know what we don’t know.  The best applications and interface for this technology are still to come. It may not even come from Google.

For now test, explore and discover new ways to adapt a powerful technology.  If that is not for you, just wait for Oprah. She will let you know when it’s safe to get on board.


Thank you to Harjit Dhaliwal (@Hoorge) and Adam Phillips for their help writing this article.

Google Wave features video

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