Monday, 5 December 2011

Ready to share

There I am, finally: Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox. In that order!
Warning: my examples might not be especially work-related because I do not often have the chance to actually use these tools in my current post. I try to apply them to things I do in my personal time instead, so at least I can test and use them. Oh, and in case you are wondering why I am talking about holidays so much, it is only because I am actually on holiday next week and I am getting excited about it!

I have used Google Docs in my last year at university. We were doing a group project for which we had to write a report. Our problem was: we needed to think about it together and see what the others had written, but since we lived quite far apart from each other, it wasn't easy to meet. So we started putting our ideas in a Google document, each person using a different colour. We then met to put some order into it and share the tasks out. We ended up writing most of our report in Google Docs.
More recently, I have used Google Docs to, err, organise a holiday! Again, it was because we lived too far away from each other to meet. Using Google meant we had a kind of notepad where we could jot down ideas of visits whenever they came up or add more details to our journey whenever one of us had a bit of time to do it.

To me wikis are like a more elaborate Google document: one that's turned into a website. I have read some stuff off wikis before (mostly Wikipedia, of course) but I believe the first time I actually participated in one is when I shared my cake recipe on the wiki for Library Camp UK 2011!

I have registered with and downloaded Dropbox, but I haven't really been able to test it yet. The idea looks great: it's like a private network, accessible anywhere over the Internet, with parts that can be shared if necessary. It's easy to see how it can be used in one's job, if people work in different locations (including at home) on different devices.
In mine at the moment, I have put some documents I might need when I am away on holiday... "just in case". Also, I might ask my friends to share their photographs with me in this way: copying the original files from Dropbox onto my computer would be much easier than downloading smaller versions from Facebook or Picasa and much quicker than waiting to have them on a USB stick!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Going back before moving forward

I am motivated, I have the time now, so I am going to finish the 23 Things for Professional Development programme! Before moving on to Thing 13, however, I decided to actually do everyThing properly. Therefore, I am going back to the one Thing I skipped: Thing 8 - Google Calendar.

As I mentioned in my post on Thing 9, I have no need for a Google Calendar. As a humble Library and Information Assistant, I do not need something to organise my time at work: I can be found on whichever floor my managers have decided to put me on, and this can be viewed by anyone on the library's daily timetable. I am rarely invited to meetings, and when I am my attendance is decided less by myself than by the timetablers, depending on the level of staffing at that time. As a result, no one will purposefully look up my calendar, if I had one! And if no one wants to see it, no need to share it...
If, however, I was in that position that requires me to use a calendar for others to see, I would be using the one linked to Outlook, as it is the one everybody uses at my workplace. As far as I could judge, it is similar to Google Calendar. The only Google Calendar in use at the Library is the one on our blog, which shows our customers upcoming events across the library service.

Just to give it a go, I have created myself a Google Calendar which I have filled with details of my social life over the next three weeks. This period includes my holidays, and I have shared my calendar with friends I am planning to see during those holidays. The results are... mixed. Yes it seems easy to use and I agree it must be great when you actually need to share your calendar with others. Also, since I use an Android smartphone, I can see the appeal of going all-Google to have everything at the ready on my phone. But apart from that, I'd still rather use my paper diary... My diary may be old-fashioned, but it does its job, it doesn't need its battery charged and I can even hold several pages open at the same time and still see each of them properly! Maybe for me - a girl who does like a bit of nice stationery - Google Calendar's great downside is that it will never have a cover sporting a witty phrase by Ben or a beautiful illustration by Gaëlle Boissonnard!!