I am a great advocate of the cloud as a way to share, and a way to store.
I have for many years been drawn to the concept of folksonomies – organising knowledge by tags (with knowledge as a pile of leaves—as opposed to taxonomies (knowledge as leaves arrayed on specific branches sorted by traditional classification).
I would always argue for open and shared creation of documents and files, rather than closed and private. Collaboration. Informal. Shared. Cooperation. As a child of the sixties it all makes perfect sense, man.
But now I have the practical reality of using Google Docs and the cloud every day. I should feel at home, confident, and at ease. I am, however, conflicted, discombobulated even, and I have been trying to think of a metaphor that sums it all up.
In many ways it’s like making the huge shift from storing all your own clothes in your own drawers and cupboards in your own way, sorted in a manner that makes perfect sense to you, (my wardrobe is black on the left, white on the right, grey in the middle), to sharing your clothes in one huge bedroom or closet with 100 other people.
I can find any item of clothes in my own room in an instant. No problem. In the dark. Half asleep. Socks: top drawer, paired, all black. Tee shirts: third drawer down – just grab one. No problem.
With 100 people sharing my storage area, getting dressed can be a real worry. People are constantly moving clothes to different drawers—throwing them out when I expect them to stay there forever, adding a constant flow of new clothes in a big pile; items of clothes are never named, so I don’t really know what I’m looking at; people are renaming clothes just when I know where they are—it drives me crazy. And then (pushing the cloud and Google Docs as communal clothes storage metaphor further), when the Internet is not available to me, there is no access to my clothes at all. I am left with few options: going back to bed, resorting to old items—yesterday’s clothes from the laundry—or going shopping.
Judging from the Google Doc forums I am not alone. Collections missing, new clothes don’t show up in the right drawer, strange items of clothing turn up with me as the owner, my clothes have disappeared, and so on. Good to know I am not the only one struggling with this problem.
For assistance and ideas on how to use Google Docs, I suggest you add the Google Docs blog to your reader. If you want to keep your drawers tidy, that’s over to you.
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