Friday, February 22, 2008

#9: Online Collaboration Tools

I like Google Docs better, because we're already using it at our library, so I'm more familiar with it. In our library, we provide Wordpad on every PC, but our public computers don't have Word on them. For people with resumes and other highly formatted documents, Wordpad just doesn't do the job. They have the ability to import a file from a flash drive, but Wordpad strips out all the formatting - also not meeting their needs.

So Google Docs is a good option for people who want access to Word quality word processing. But in a public library, when a patron just wants to print out an existing resume or create a quick document, most don't want to have to create a google account, just so they can use Google Docs. Creating an account seems to be a stumbling block for many. Plus, they know they may only get an hour on the computer if we're busy, and they don't want to 'waste' any of that time. So in order to make using it more convenient, we now have a building account. Staff can log a patron into Google Docs using our already-created account and the patron can be up and running in just a few minutes.

With all the OSS (Open Source Software) now available on the internet, it makes me wonder about the future of software companies. Will there come a time when all the applications we need will be available for free, using the internet?

And that raises other questions for me: Is the information I put on someone else's server secure? Is it really being kept private? Is it being backed-up? How long will it be available to me? And how can any site do that forever, for free - storage costs would eventually require some charge, wouldn't they?

Lots to think about....

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