Last month, when I had my horrible computer crash, I lost one or two documents and a few emails. It was because I wasn't only backed up within 24 hours, not minutes. I didn't loose a whole lot more because most of my work is now "backed up" or inside of web applications.
I've been using online wikis - documents and more recently, spreadsheet wikis for the past year. A good deal of my work involves collaboration with remotes colleagues and includes tasks as writing articles, curriculum, research, etc. Wikis are just great for that!
Not everyone I work with has moved away from Word/Excel -- so I'm finding myself with one foot in the web-based collaboration tools and the other foot stuck in Microsoft Office. Some folks just aren't comfortable with using wikis yet. One colleague told me that they were allergic to wikis!
I'm not complaining. And, Google documents allows you export and import pretty easily without too much reformating hell. So, I can easily respect other people's tool preferences as long as I don't get too annoyed. I'm finding it very annoying to having to open an attached document from email, save it to my hard drive, and work with track changes or comments though. Wikis and wiki spreadsheets are so much more efficient than sending back word and excel spreadsheets with comments or track changes.
It's the same kind of impatience I feel reading email from listservs -- only because my RSS reader makes scanning and reading a lot of information very eficient. I'm not going to ditch email or listservs anytime soon ... I still read listservs because that's the only place I can find a particular people/peers sharing information about a particular topic. And, with google groups you have an option of reading via a RSS feed.
So, I've used wikispaces, pbwiki, socialtext, jotspot, and writely (now google docs). My distributed work products are the result, again, of collaborations with other independents (Your wiki, or mine?).
But, since Google combined writely and its spreadsheets into Google Docs - I'm going to consolidate there. Here's what I like:
- I don't have to jump back and forth between applications to see both my spreadsheets and documents
- You can easilyl collaborate with spreadsheets and docs
- Spreadsheets can be viewed by everyone
- The formatting is great
- You can add tags to your documents! (No folder structure and that takes some getting used to)
Still, for more formal documents, I'll still need the advanced format features of Word (table of contents, page numbers and the like).