Oct 4, 2009

Am I… old???

I first saw a computer in the 1970's and my first job out of high school was for a manufacturer of so-called mini-machines: The size of a washing machine, with storage and memory measured in kilobytes, not megabytes, and running BASIC.

Barely 10 years later, I was an expert with WordPerfect on an IBM PC, after several years of using a Wang (look it up), and what I learned about Lotus 1-2-3 back then has helped me use Excel ever since.

Then came e-mail. What fun!

Then came the internet, and I got hooked up at home in 1997. More fun! I even learned HTML and designed my own webpages. I became an eager user of Usenet. I even figured out IRC and took an entire course via ICQ. Web 1.0 was good to me.

Web 2.0 came along with interactive applications embedded in the web browser. Some were cooler (and more useful) than others. I like del.icio.us and still use it, and Twitter and Facebook are also in use. And blogs and Blogger, of course! I found a good use for Google Docs the day I was attending a course that offered no handouts but did have internet on our course PCs. So I opened up a doc in Google and typed notes there (and later e-mailed to fellow classmates). Very nice! Very convenient! On the downside, Web 2.0 introduced web forums and is steadily killing Usenet. I have not yet been able to befriend web forums; I am alienated by their look, their interface. Not enough text and order, too many icons, no decent quoting, and gray on gray or blue on blue decor (who finds that user friendly?).

So, what's next? What's Web 3.0? Google Wave, that's what. Based on this short (well-made) video, it seems rather cool. So I read more about the Wave, and came across this blog entry about it. I read the whole thing, did enlarge the pictures - and my heart sank.

I find chat annoying, simply because it is intrusive and in real-time, like answering a phone, not knowing how long the conversation will take. Unlike a phone, if you happen to be online on Facebook, someone can open a chat window and your "phone" answers itself, i.e. you look "in" and available. And it's rude and can even hurt feelings not to answer, I've found. I and many others. People expect, with chat and IM (instant messaging) and the like, to get instant replies, and that requires your undivided attention and time. Which is why chatting isn't always convenient. From now on, I am listed as offline on Facebook for that reason (sorry, friends) unless I really do have the time for a chat.

Google Wave is one huge chat-e-mail mash-up - with icons, threading, attachments, copy to's, forwards - and if you arrive late, you can replay everything that has happened so far.

I took one look at the screenshots, the clutter they show, the sheer amount of volume - of one-liners. My eyes usually balk at most graphical interfaces. I prefer clean text, maybe with colors for each quote-level, but that's it. I look at Google Wave's offering and feel not a wave, but a tsunami. It's too much.

So I ask myself: Will I not be able to join Web 3.0? I'm a destined to stick with Twitter as the pinnacle of my internet expertise, the last app where I could keep up with the young folks? Am I - old?

Or am I just right? Is Google Wave a good idea with poor implementation? Will it lead to "information" overload and loss of productivity? I predict there will be a lot of filtering offered in time.

I also see that the wave takes what is essentially a bad habit in e-mail (illustrated well in the short video above) and implements it as a feature: Just forwarding the whole kit and caboodle to someone new without telling them what it's about or why, just assuming they'll slog through the whole thing to find that one document stuck to the very bottom. No, we who receive such nonsense don't. We don't scroll down past a screen or two - not if you don't tell us why we should! Google Wave takes this bit of e-mail rudeness and turns it into a movie, where you can watch in real time how each reply and attachment and forward came about. Yeah, we have the time for that. Yes, we'll know which parts are pertinent without any help from the sender.

Dammit, Google, where are your manners? Don't you have anyone over 40 working for you?

12 comments:

Protege said...

What an interesting pot, yo definitely keep abreast with all the technology and advances. I feel old reading this, as I do not even know what Google Wave is.;) Hehe.
I agree on the chat issue, it is a bit annoying to be asked to chat if you do not feel like it.;)

Protege said...

Ok, sorry about the typos! I meant POST and YOU of course! Hehe.:P

Keera Ann Fox said...

I learn about it from Twitter. :-) I'm curious about new technologies, but I have never been an "early adopter". Let other people fuss with the bugs.

I wonder if there is some way to say no to a chat invite without it seeming rude. Some think it's rude to appear online if you aren't actually available, and they do have a point.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I figured out what you meant. :-)

Sravana said...

If you're old, then so am I.
Google wave sounds unpleasant, from your description.

Re: no chat online - I think the thing to do is replay with "can't chat now, maybe later", rather than letting people hang out to dry. FWIW, YMMV, IMNSHO and all that. ;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

There are those who say that as an instant messaging/chat system, Wave fails - but it isn't meant to be an IM system. It's meant to replace e-mail. But if you are also expected to respond in real time, it doesn't really behave like e-mail. But I guess "Can't talk right now" works. There, too. :-)

Beep said...

I've always been told "you're as old as you feel" which, for someone who can wake up like I did today with cranky painful arthritis in every single joint in the body, is truly no help at all.

Google Wave? Another Google thing to learn? Sheesh; I'll never get the laundry done.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I have to laugh. I'm waiting for a load of laundry myself, as I type this. You're right, Beep, we won't get much else done if we ride the Google Wave. ;-)

alice said...

I'm coming in late in this discussion, but I have to point out that you liked neither facebook nor twitter when you first tried them, so maybe google wave will grow on you as well. Or maybe not. I haven't seen it yet, so it's all theoretical to me at this point...

Keera Ann Fox said...

I still don't like Facebook. Here's the thing with both it and Twitter: If you truly want to keep with everyone you friend or follow, you have to spend a lot of time doing it. Facebook has become the modern equivalent of having an old address book with ancient and new entries, and you never clean it out - just in case. But do we actually stay in touch, keep up with each other? No.

Alice, I miss our e-mails, and I miss the blogs of people I now hardly see on Facebook. It was easier to keep track of where people were at in their lives then.

That said, thank you for still having a blog, Alice!

alice said...

Keeping up the the blog is a struggle at times these days, but I do still enjoy it! Thanks for the positive feedback.

The problem, though, with blogging, facebook and twitter is that I'm always conscious that I'm putting my stuff out there in public, so hold back on some of the personal stuff. That I save for email and private facebook messages.

For me, the balance is that I can keep up with so many people at once -- on facebook, especially. Up until recently, I've have a really hard time keeping up with my large and scattered extended family. But facebook has made it possible for me to interact with them all way more often than I used to. And I like hearing about more than just the births, graduations, marriages and deaths.

It does take some work, though I'm pleased so far with the update facebook put out there yesterday. I think it will make it easier to filter past the stuff I don't care about. And I've been using groups for a while, so that if I get swamped or overwhelmed, I can still check on smaller groups of my peeps (like "family" and "friends") while ignoring the larger crowd.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I rely on your blog to let me know when something stupid happens, you know. :-)

It sounds to me like you are the perfect user for a network like Facebook, and have made it work for you. I think I'll try grouping stuff more, too.