I’ve used Google Docs for some time; most of my recent conference proposals have been drafted there. Because there is an excellent open-source (free) alternatives to Microsoft Office (OpenOffice.org), I’m not all that convinced that cloud computing is the answer. I’m not comfortable with the idea that, if my internet connection hiccups, or Google goes down, that all my work in the Google Cloud is inaccessible.
I haven’t had time to experiment with Google Wave, but here’s an interesting perspective, from FastCompany:
Every college student is familiar with the next liability. Email chains–the closest thing to waves at this point–are all fun
and games until someone CC’s the wrong person, like a parent, relative,
boss or overly-sensitive co-worker. “Any participant can reply anywhere
in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in
the process,” Google says. That’ll make keeping track of participants a
lot harder. Subtract the aforementioned opportunities to self-edit, and
you have a social trainwreck ready and waiting.
Uh… I think the days when college students have been likely to participate in e-mail chains have been over for about five years. (E-mail is for old people.) But I am interested in how these collaborative tools might be of use in the writing classroom, perhaps in the brainstorming and peer-reviewing stages.