Google Wave Eyes Network Effect with E-Mail Notifications

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-03-05 Print this article Print

Google on March 4 added the ability for users to receive e-mail notifications about new and updated waves in Wave users' inboxes, lavishing another modicum of control for the real-time collaboration platform.

Users may access this just by using the dropdown menu by the inbox link, as you can see here:

Wave Notifications 1.png

Of course, selecting notifications can sound like a scary, all-or-nothing proposition, which is why Google is offering the following controls when you click notifications:

Wave Notifications 2.png

Picked your setting? Google Wave engineer Ged Ellis said it works thusly:

When you're added to a new wave, or a wave that you are on changes, we'll send you an e-mail with a short summary of the text and links to go straight to your updated waves. Rest assured, we know waves can change a lot, so we will only send you one notification about a changed wave until you have logged in to look at it (i.e.: if a wave changes 10 times after we send the first notification, we won't send 10 more e-mails). Waves you have open also won't trigger updates.

Google said it is in the process of switching on e-mail notifications for friends, so in the meantime Google is urging those who want to use Wave with friends, family or colleagues who aren't logging in frequently to tell help them to turn on notifications.

This is an interesting step. Many software makers offering new features they really want users to try would add a pop-out alert to let users know there's something new afoot.

That Google is asking its 1 million-plus Wave users to tell other users about the notifications feature is an interesting crowd-sourcing measure.

Google is straining to strike a balance between offering users total control over the messaging aspects of Wave, while asking the existing active users to go forth and evangelize about Wave, spreading the word about new features.

If it works, it will help Google build a much-sought-after network effect for Wave. Think of this as the second wave for Wave after Google offered eight-plus invitations to users to invite people via e-mail.

Does this mean Wave is growing stagnant? It's tough to say. How does one measure that? It's not like activity is run through the comScore ringer.

I'm sure those doing project collaboration are living in Wave, but consumers? My guess is Google Buzz is providing the social element users crave over Wave, which is more purely collaboration-oriented.

When Wave was introduced, social networking was assumed instead of proven, but user profiles do not a social network make. I'm not saying we can assume a dearth of virality with Wave, but you don't hear Google trumpeting usage adoption.

I'm not ready to proclaim Wave dead yet, but Google's appeal for help in rolling out the notifications feature may signal something's up, or down, as it were.

Anyway, Google warned of a few glitches with notifications. They are:

  • Sometimes the e-mail snippet does not show all participants on the wave
  • Users may get an update about a wave even if you were the last person to change it
  • The link at the bottom of the notification e-mails is not working yet, so to change the notifications setting you have to go back to the menu where you turned it on.

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