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Holding meetings with Google Wave, my experience

Last night was the first team meeting for <redacted>.  In addition to discussing <redacted>, we also held the meeting over a new medium…Google Wave.  Our product team is spread out across the world.

I haven’t talked with all of the team yet, however my experience was a mixed bag.  The meeting started off well, despite the fact that I was leading it.  I set out a few objectives and tried to put in place a little bit of structure so that we’d all follow the same strategy for discussion during the meeting.

So GWave is a bit unstructured; I’ll try to bring us a little bit of order. My idea is that we’ll use one blip for each item in the agenda and add replies to that as needed. The blip in the end will then be updated to contain what has been decided for that item.

For example; when we discuss team capacity it will be posed in a blip and everyone replies to that. At the end we’ll update the blip that posed the question with the result.

I think my strategy was sound, however it didn’t take long for the Wave UI to get in the way of proceeding orderly through the meeting.  Making an indented reply to a blip was done most of the time early on, but later it degenerated to a long thread without the benefits of indents to indicate replies.  This is largely due to the default behavior of clicking at the end of a thread will continue it, unless the thread is followed by another blip in which case it then defaults to an indented reply.  Since we progressed down the page from one topic to the next some of our later replies were new blips.

The other flaw with it was in knowing when others had edited or added replies to previous blips.  By the end of the meeting I was scrolling up and down the document enough that it was causing some connection issues with Wave.  One of my developers suggested that they could add markers to the scroll bar area to indicate when changes have been made, that would be an awesome feature for both live sessions like ours as well as more casual waves.  I find it is very difficult to find the edits on a large wave.

I’m not completely discounting Wave yet.  This meeting was really an odd one for us.  Typically our product planning meetings involve the team looking at specific cases to estimate and discuss them.  Last night’s meeting was largely discussion with 5 agenda items (and about 130 replies total).  I suspect a typical meeting will be easier to follow as it would be more focused.


About James

I am a Senior Developer/Consultant for InfoPlanIT, LLC. I previously spent over 7 years as a Product Manager for what eventually became ComponentOne, a division of GrapeCity. While there, I helped to create ActiveReports 7, GrapeCity ActiveAnalysis, and Data Dynamics Reports.


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