Monday, October 26, 2009

Using Google Wave as an interview tool

Last week, I may have conducted the first ever news interview using Google Wave. At least the first interview in Wichita, KS.

Google Wave is currently being tested and accounts are available by invitation. No, I can't send you an invitation, because I wasn't one of the cool kids first invited to use it. I believe most were web developers. They got the invitations to distribute, and local web dude Viktor Tarm sent me one.

I was doing a story on a guy caught posing as a 19-year-old woman on Facebook in order to get nude pictures of teen boys.

I wanted to interview a web savvy parent, and I knew Viktor had a teen daughter. I would have interviewed Viktor anyway, usually by phone. But since Viktor had sent me the invitation on Google Wave, I knew he was one of about a dozen locals on there. I sent him a DM (direct message) on Twitter asking him if I could interview him. When he agreed, I told him to meet me on the Wave.

This was simple. I set up a private wave with just me and Viktor and began asking questions. One of the cool parts of Google Wave is that you can see the other person type. Sometimes Viktor would begin answer my question before I could finish typing it. Other times, I began my follow-up question as he was typing.

It was a bit clunky and slow. But at this point that's just been my experience. As Google gets the bugs worked out, every wave can be slow. But really, it was not much different than a phone interview. When it was over, the notes were all there and in context.

I see Google Wave as being a great collaboration tool. Reporters could join a wave together and work on a story in real time, seeing edits and additions as they happen. One discussion about the Wave and the future of journalism also has folks talking about its potential in crowd-sourcing and developing ideas from live interaction with people in the community.

The weird thing, is after I left Wave and began typing my story, I kept imagining that Viktor could see me typing.

Maybe we should call this Post Traumatic Wave Syndorme.