A new user guide to Google Wave will hopefully help some of us see how it can be of use

The Complete Guide to Google Wave cover imageJust when I and maybe others started to wonder whether Google Wave was worth the fanfare, and how to use it in any seriously productive way,  a new guide to Wave has been released, which claims to be comprehensive as well as complete. It’s by Gina Trapani with Adam Pash, whose credentials are not to be sneezed at. The guide will be for sale as a PDF soon, it seems, and in dead tree form come January 2010. In the meantime you can read it online.

From watching a demo of the Google Wave some months ago and the short, quite witty explanation below from Epipheostudios.com (update: the link I had to this does not work now) I was excited about the new application and eager to have an invitation to try it out.

Now that I’ve been invited on and joined a few conversations there, I’ve frankly found the live experience a tad underwhelming.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that once you move beyond a few buzzwords and feelgood phrases, it is not easy – at least for this non-technical person – to actually understand in any depth what Wave is about or how it works.

Crunchbase describes Wave as a tool for communication and collaboration on the web:

In Google Wave, users create and invite other people to “waves”. Everyone on a wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see what other users on the wave are typing in real-time.

Daniel Lyons, in an extended post, is skeptical and whimsical about Wave, and also offers some fundamentally serious observations:

It’s apparently fantastic stuff, really super-impressive. There’s just one teeny-tiny problem—nobody can explain what Wave is or how it works. Not even the people who created Google Wave seem able to really explain why anyone needs or wants it.

Google Wave iconThat sort of skepticism may be warranted, but from what I’ve seen so far I suspect that Google Wave, or something like it, could be tremendously valuable for real-time collaboration. So I will be studying the Guide and seeing what I can do to make sense of how Google Wave can work in practice.

Have you used Google Wave? Was it worthwhile?

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).