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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Moving experiences (and WebCollaborating)

It’s been very quiet here these last few days. At the same time it’s been complete chaos for me both at home and at work. I moved house last week and moved offices today and so everything is upside down right now. I also now have only limited access to a PC. So for a while, instead of a steady stream of regular postings there may be a number of things all posted at once.

Apologies if they are not quite as ‘hot off the press’ either but catching up will firstly involve posting those things I have been saving up to come back to. So let’s start...

Just before the move, I spent some of last week collaborating on a project with Rick (of the Edu-Blogger). Rick is based in a university in the USA (I'm in the UK) and we were looking at a new piece of software that he had mentioned called Web Collaborator.

“This software creates a brand new free and easy way to collaborate. Before Web Collaborator, collaborating on a project meant passing papers back and forth, hours of painstaking corrections, hundreds of wasted pieces of paper, headaches, and plenty of coffee. Web Collaborator coordinates collaborations automatically, keeping backups of every revision ever made to the project, letting you see who made the changes, and allowing you to focus on the work instead of managing the work. Better yet, it is absolutely free for all uses.

Each project has three components.

The discussion - This is where you can plan your project and discuss which parts of the project that need improvement. This allows you to have a clear vision for the future of your project.

The project - This is your actual project, be it a paper, a poem, a story, a grant or a proposal. Any collaborative writing can be done in this area. At any time, you can download it as a PDF document to archive or print for a hard copy.

The history - This section keeps a backup of every revision. You can see word for word, letter for letter what was changed at any point during the project.”

To try it, Rick set up a project in which we looked at some of the differences between blogs and discussion boards. Despite a couple of minor glitches, which were very quickly ironed out (thanks Lucas) the website worked really well. It was intuitive, straightforward and well, did exactly what it said it would.

I didn’t do any of the administrative bits where you determine who belongs to the collaboration etc but I did enough to be able to appreciate that this is a very useful tool. Its potential has also been identified by others - including Will of Weblogg-ed who goes on to give yet another example for its use.

In summary, it looks really promising and so far so good. Definitely something that I'd recommend and use.


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