I want to follow-up on yesterday’s (multi-part) post about synchronous document editing on the Web by pointing to this post at Om Malik’s Broadband Blog. He wonders if the writing world is really ready for all of these web-based writing tools–particularly given some users’ (himself included) discomfort with writing in a browser. I must admit I can sort of relate (Shameful Little Secret: While writing online isn’t so much of a problem for me, I still have trouble reading on a computer screen. Sometimes. . .I even print articles/webpages/etc. Ahhhh, it feels so good to get that off my chest 😉 )
On the other hand, in the world of higher education we (generally) answer to a higher power: the 18-22 year-old. And I’ve heard from these young adults that they think writing in the wiki-ed/collaborative/socially-networked world is pretty darn cool. And really, it isn’t surprising that this kind of writing would be more comfortable for those who’ve grown up online.
Another point: as a commenter on Malik’s blog notes, these tools aren’t really about personal writing (and personal comfort) but about group writing and collaboration and the powerful synergy that can come out of this kind of activity. We may be more comfotable writing our documents off-line in Word, but offline we can’t acheive the kind of collaborative dynamic that Writely, Synchroedit, and others are aiming to give us