Posts Tagged ‘social media class’

Are You Collaborating Enough?

May 8, 2008

Listening to Marketing Over Coffee on the way home, there was a very small section talking about GoogleDocs and how you can activate a form to collect data for you. It also made me think further on the question about how much we’re collaborating (or not collaborating) online.

We had to create a wiki for our social media class, and of course, wikis tell you how much (or little) someone edited the final output. It was noted that a handful of people contributed the majority of the content, which made our Professor, Michael Netzley, less than thrilled. I brought up the point that though a few people may have been the actual ones to enter the text, doesn’t mean the whole team did not collaborate together. Both sides are debatable, but that’s not the point.

I’m an assistant scout leader for my alma mater’s scout troop and every year around this time we have a camp. As with previous years, the emails pile up, meeting minutes get distributed, camp schedules get sent and changed and re-sent and re-changed until eventually, no one knows what in the world is going on anymore.

To solve this, I set up a wiki for the leaders. It’s a private wiki so I’m sorry I can’t share the link. I will however say that we’re using PBwiki, which I find to be superior to Wetpaint in terms of editing as well as help. But that aside, so far it’s been helping us keep track of personnel and manpower, topics of discussion, a couple of things to be noted, schedules, equipment lists and so on.

No more losing of minutes on paper, no more “can you send me the latest schedule? I can’t find it”. Everything is up there and updated. To the minute.

So why aren’t more of us doing this? Is it the challenge of working alone as Michael brings up? Or an unwillingness to change our styles of working?

Does it make sense for us to share our items on Google Reader (my shared items are here)? Or on del.icio.us? How about collaborating on Google Docs in the classroom? In the office?

To me the biggest problem is convincing the people you’re working with that it’s worth their while. In my scout case study, I knew the people who were primarily going to enter the data would be the younger adult leaders, while the older leaders would keep and eye on it from time to time. To both of these groups, you gotta speak their language.

To my peers, it was the idea of collaboration. To see everything in one place, to have links and for easy reading. To the senior leaders, it was the idea of streamlining information. Not losing paper, not having to distinguish whether schedule(final).doc is the true schedule or schedule(final)THISISTHEREALFINAL.doc is the true schedule.

So how’s collaboration working (or not working) for you? Are you using wikis regularly? Online document processors or software based? Is it a challenge convincing your classmates/colleagues to use it as well?

Wikis, Google Docs & ooVoo

March 12, 2008

Social Media class discussed wikis today. Not just Wikipedia, but wikis in general. What’s a wiki? Here’s the definition from (where else) Wikipedia:

A wiki is software that allows users to easily create, edit, and link pages together. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

That’s a little hard to understand, but let’s put it this way: You and anyone you choose to invite, can put whatever information you want on a page, as well as edit it. And you immediately think: Why aren’t we using that in our projects more often? Wouldn’t it cut out the hassle of email?

The thing about wikis is, with most new technologies, everyone has to know how to use it. I don’t mean know how to bold or underline text, I mean to really use it and gain the synergies that it offers. That’s where the tough part comes in. Will we be spending more time editing our wikis, or focusing on what really matters, the sharing of ideas, information and knowledge?

I know it’s hard. A few friends of mine used to have our meeting agendas on Google Docs, but gave up after awhile because we weren’t using it efficiently enough to get rid of email. As with all technology advancements, the new offering must offer significant benefits over the old, otherwise the switching cost is just too high.

Which brings me to ooVoo, a webcam-chat programme that allows up to 6 people to converse at once. Good for short meetings right? Would you use them? I personally would, but I’m not sure whether productivity would be higher or lower than if we had meetings face to face.

On a separate, curious note: does anyone know what happens if 2 people try to edit the exact same portion of a wiki at the same time and both save their changes?