A few days ago, Daniil Kravtsov of Rizzoma sent along an email (out of the blue) reporting that Google Wave still lives. Not officially, of course, but the idea has been adopted by a team that wants to provide a better, more consumer-friendly version. The new version is free to use and open source, meaning anyone can pitch in to help accomplish what Google couldn't.
"Our team loved the Wave," Kravtsov said. "We've used it in our business and just for fun conversations. There was no way we could go back to email. When Google decided to shut the project down we had only one true way -- to resurrect the great idea and continue its development. At the moment, our project is launched and works pretty good for more than 3000 active users."
Prior to launching the project, the team surveyed the still-active Google Wave community and found out what exactly attracted them to the service, and what they hated most. Specifically, the survey discovered that 77-percent of the Wave users used the tool for business purposes such as threaded discussions in software development, interactions related to web projects, collaborative text writing and more. The other 23-percent used it for socialization and entertainment including coordinating games for Dungeons & Dragons.
According to the survey, users liked the live editing and multi-threaded discussions, but they didn't care for the slow loading of long waves, and they didn't like not having a mobile version whether it's an app or a version for Firefox, Dolphin, Safari and other mobile browsers. The biggest complaints also included a list of bugs, the interface in general, the lack of drag-and-drop and more.
But after spending time with Google Wave during its brief lifespan, the biggest issue for me seemed to be that it was difficult to figure out how to get started. "First of all, I agree with you that the main Google Wave's problem is that potential customers did not have enough understanding how to use it (Google Wave). Google Wave was created as a social communication tool like Facebook," said Vladimir Kobzev in a separate email.
"The main target audience of Google Wave was Facebook's users," he went on to explain. "However, according to the marketing research we have made, three-quarter of their users used Google Wave as a business communication tool. One-quarter of them used Google Wave a social communication tool. According to the statistic information, Google Wave had from 100,000 - 300,000 users before the project was closed."
The Rizzoma team decided to take a different route and create it as a business tool -- the target audience is business teams with a high speed of exchange information in communications processes. As an example, in this first blog entry, the team explains how to use Rizzoma in an international competition of information security. In another blog published three weeks ago, the team also described how a team of biologists uses Rizzome in their scientific researches. Just last week, the team created a landing page for an audience in education, as described in a blog here.
"In order to improve quality of the Rizzoma project, we communicate with our users on a regular basis," Kobzev told Tom's. "More than 200 users take part in our Roadmap discussions (Roadmap is the main view of Rizzoma). Their main concern is that Rizzoma remains a difficult tool for using. Users are not almost ready to recommend Rizzoma to their friend."
"Our team considers users comments and proposals and we work on improving of the Rizzoma interface," he added. "For instance, we created a Guid for new users. There are pictures of the Guid in our album interest. Also, we have different opinions in terms how this Guid useful is."
Kobzev summed up his Rizzoma presentation with three main advantages over Google's version: (1) A possibility to @mention like Twitter; (2) A possibility to open an access to any link; (3) A possibility to reply, to correct a message in any place of a document.
Previous Google Wave users eager to get back into the tide can sign in using their Google or Facebook credentials. The actual user interface is reminiscent of a framed webpage with a navigation pane on the left and a larger content pane on the right. The left pane is divided into three tabs: Topics, @Mentions and Public, and a shortcut window resides at the bottom left. There are also Facebook, Google+ and Twitter buttons for sharing topics on the social networks.
For more information about Rizzoma and to see what the rebooted Google Wave has to offer, head here. We'll take a more hands-on approach later after we've taken a look at how Rizzoma actually works. So far there doesn't seem to be any D&D games ready to roll, but that may change soon (cough).