Working in the cloud

Cloud image

Image from Flickr, by kevindooley

Back on a computer, so I’m taking the opportunity and skipping Thing 19 for now, to write about Thing 20, Google docs, because I know what I want to say and it won’t take long.

It won’t take long particuarly because Girl in the Moon already said it all. We used Google docs to create a number of documents as part of our preparations for the Cambridge Librarians Teachmeet. We each used it for a different kind of document and then added things to each other’s work. It was really easy to use and very useful in that context. The benefits are obvious for collaborative working (avoiding all those emailed attachments, etc). I am still left with some negatives though:

  • As Girl in the Moon mentioned, you have to know the correct email address for someone’s Google account (or they need to create one specially to collaborate with you if they don’t already have one). That led to a bit of back-and-forth with us and it is interesting to note quite a few of us choose different email accounts for different things.
  • The documents in Google format are fine for simple structures where you don’t want to do much in the way of formatting. However, when I tried to change the layout of something to landscape… nope, not possible, at least as far as I could tell.
  • Transferring documents from Word to Google and back again did create some oddities in formatting again, which were quite frustrating and would be even more so if I were using Google docs on a regular basis.

I was glad of the chance to try Google docs out with a real purpose and was impressed with the way you could add location-specific notes to explain what you’ve done to a document and why. However, I wonder whether there might be some options for collaborative working offered by CamTools that might have worked better in the case of the Cambridge Librarians TeachMeet organisers since we’re all Cambridge University staff with access to CamTools.

4 comments so far

  1. Girl in the Moon on

    I never even thought of CamTools as a collaborative tool for us to use. I’ve said this before across the Cam23-o-sphere, but I really don’t get CamTools – I’ve never found it useful for anything. Clearly I’m in the wrong groups on there.

  2. Céline on

    Used a CamTools wiki at work earlier in the year and it was really very very good, you could track all changes, view previous versions, get reliable email notifications of updates, I liked it and keep meaning to go and explore more of what CamTools can offer. Some departments use it a huge amount but haven’t ever been in one of those departments to see it from the inside, so to speak.

  3. libchris on

    Just had a play with Google Docs, and agree with you completely. Tryed to do something with columns, and failed completely.

    Just about to try and share doc myself… fingers crossed!

  4. Céline on

    Yes, the limitations of formatting in Google Docs is off-putting to me. It’s okay for rough ideas, notes, the kind of things we’ve used it for in camlibtm but anything where formatting will be important will eventually need to be taken out of Google Docs into another format (Word, etc) to deal with I think.

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