Taking a cue from Twitter, Google Nov. 12 added a following feature in Google Wave that let users shun waves they don't want to see in their in-box, the first of many tools to help users manage waves.
Google Wave is the search engine giant's real-time collaboration platform, which lets users send e-mails and instant messages and share and edit files from one palette. The company unveiled Wave in May, opened it to developers in July and rolled it out to 100,000 users Sept. 30.
Since that last rollout, several pundits complained the platform was too confusing to use. The bouncing cursors from multiple users were bad enough, but the inability to filter out waves users didn't want to see was another pet peeve. No longer.
Going forward, when users click on a public "wave"-a communication stream created in the Wave platform-it will no longer appear in their in-box, wrote Casey Whitelaw, the engineering tech lead for Google Wave.
When someone adds a user directly to a wave, or if a user contributes to a wave, he or she will automatically be following that wave. But when a user sees a public wave he or she would like to get updates on, the user must hit the "follow" button in the wave panel tool bar to be a party to that wave.
Users can switch between following and unfollowing a wave as much and as often as they like. Users can also remove waves they follow from their in-box by hitting the "archive" button, and when there is an update the waves will return to the in-box.
Also, as Wave is still in its experimental phase, users can expect existing features to be dropped as much as they can plan on new features gracing Wave. To that end, the new "unfollow" feature replaces mute. So, if users no longer want to follow a wave, they can click "unfollow."
Whitelaw had good news for Wave users:
""Following is the first step towards a set of new tools for managing waves in your in-box. In the future, there will be more control over what kinds of changes will cause a wave to appear in your in-box, and we will soon introduce better support for groups of wave users. We're also thinking of expanding the following concept to let you follow people, groups, and searches.""
The following tool will make Wave more palatable for users who complained that the real-time collaboration platform is too noisy, busy and cluttered. This is important, particularly as Google prepares to roll out to more users in the coming weeks.