I got a call from a friend overseas today who wanted some input on a document he was working on. He emailed me the document and then, over Skype, we began to talk about it. I was marking it up, he was also talking about it and making changes and quite quickly the whole thing was out of control and neither of us knew what we were talking about.
Enter web-based collaboration tools. Quite some time ago I experimented with a web-based application called “Writely,” which allowed people to work on documents in real-time together through the web. I hadn’t used it for a while, and knew that they’d been bought by Google. So when I went to www.writely.com I was quickly redirected to the Google Docs site and walked through a 30 second process of porting my old Writely docs over to Google Doc.
From there I sent an invite to my overseas friend and within a couple of minutes we were simultaneously working in his document in near real-time. I say “near” because the page and its edits only refresh about every 30 seconds or when you hit the “refresh” button.
All in all we were both impressed by how easy it was to work on a document together that we could both see, read and edit together…all from a couple of thousand miles away. It was a great way to work together.