Google Wave has been hyped, debated and backlashed for a good three months, and it may be time for a little stock-taking. From my experience and what I read, it seems designed for work-related collaboration and it claims its own spot in the online-communication space.
It does a good job of combining synchronous in-place editing with asynchronous, persistent messaging. Primary use cases seem to be collaborative remote brainstorming, document drafting and document editing. Apart from the technical hiccups coming with the preview status of the software and the less-than-perfect integration with existing social networks and notification services, the general impression seems to be favorable.
So far, a rational assessment. Fitness for purpose, usefulness and usability would be the underlying design goals to expect. But as always happens, as soon as the product comes into the hands of users, it turns out that it can be used for many things other than work-related collaboration.
The re-appropriation of Google Wave has taken quite a few forms so far, including pastiche recreations of famous documents, realtime chats, and public clue solicitation in a police manhunt. The example that stands out for me, however, is Joe Sabia’s work on re-enacting scenes from two famous movies using Google Wave. Here is the Pulp Fiction scene:
Is this an hommage remake? A mashup? An interpretation? I have no idea what to call it. But what I know is that is strangely gripping, and that it was not one of the use cases on the whiteboards of the Google Wave development team.