Google Wave is where email was 20 years ago, when Bob was one of the few emailers out there. Joy came along a couple years later and was really into it by 1995, when she started emailing at work. Her boss said to her: “You think this stuff is useful?”  This reminds Bob of his Pulitzer Prize managing editor, who once took him aside and said: “You know, this computer stuff is all just a fad.”

Google Wave is Facebook in a business suit. Facebook is a casual online meeting place for friends and family. You write something on your Facebook wall and people read it and can make comments. Or you share a photo or a news clip. Wave is more organized. Instead of waiting to see who responds to your Wave, you invite people. As it grows, the collaborators can add photos and surveys and maps and video chat. They can also edit what’s been said before, and view the history of edits by pushing the playback button. Waves can be organized into folders to keep them tidy, the way Joy does with her email.

Joy’s Wave experience has been limited to a group of three so far.  But next month, the technology committee for the city of Evanston, Illinois, on which she serves, is going to use the Wave to discuss plans for the city’s website and other tech-y stuff.  She started a second wave for Bob’s University of Chicago alumni book group, but so far only one person has joined and even she needed a lot of help figuring out the basics.

The Wave is easy to use, but it helps to read the getting started suggestions that come in your inbox. It’s early days for the wave, but it’s probably not a fad.  Go to to request an invitation.

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