Monday, 22 August 2011

Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

I was looking forward to this Thing as I’d heard of these tools but hadn’t explored them in any great detail. I’m forever emailing documents to myself so I hoped they would help me simplify the process of working on things from more than one computer. I'm a little late though as I've been spending a few days at home in the lovely North East.

Nice view of the Millennium Bridge, the Sage and the Baltic

Google Docs
I didn’t think I’d ever used Google Docs before, but when I logged in I found some documents there: a copy of my CV, a list of referees and a couple of other Word docs. I was briefly confused until I remembered that I’d uploaded them back in December when I was still looking for a job, so that I had access to them in different places. I prefer to keep Google Docs for professional use, as all my Google accounts are LIS related (I have a separate Hotmail account for personal email, for example) and will try to make more of an effort to store work-related information here, possibly including my Chartership portfolio, when I eventually get around to chartering. I haven’t actually converted any documents to Google Docs yet, and haven’t used the collaborative function either, but it seems easy enough to do and I can see that it might be useful in the future.

I’d heard of Dropbox but had never got around to exploring it properly. I found it easy to set up and straightforward to download, and the presentation was simple to understand. I had the usual problem with not being able to download it on my work computer, but this shouldn’t be a huge issue since I can download any individual item from the web. In any case, I’d probably want to use Google Docs for anything work-related.

Dropbox strikes me as an incredibly useful tool for backing up important files. Unfortunately the 2GB free limit means I couldn’t really store photos on there, although I have an external hard drive on which I can keep these. As a way to back up Word documents and similar it seems great.

Dropbox seems a bit like Evernote in some ways: both can be downloaded to your desktop and backed up on the web, although Dropbox seems more suitable for actual documents while Evernote appears better for web clippings, brief notes and lists. I really like the way that documents are stored on both your computer and the web: it seems much more reliable than straightforward cloud computing, since you can continue working on your documents without an Internet connection. When I’m spending three hours on the London to Newcastle train I don’t want to be unable to access my documents because I’m unwilling to pay for East Coast’s hugely expensive wifi.

I don’t think it’s likely I’ll want to share files or folders from Dropbox with other users, but it’s nice to know the function is there should I want it.

Although I’m familiar with Wikipedia and have visited wikis before, I didn’t have any experience of creating or contributing to one. The benefits of Wikis seem many and varied but I just never had the opportunity or the need to manage one.

In order to practice editing a Wiki, I added my contribution to the Library Routes project by linking to my Thing 10 post. This was really simple to do and has given me confidence to explore wikis further should I need to in the future.

Uses in my job?
Although I think all of these things seem really useful, none of them are directly relevant to my current job. At work we have a shared drive and any files to be edited by more than one person are stored there. However, both Google Docs and Dropbox could be useful if I needed to work on a document at home. I will continue to use both of these tools, keeping Google Docs for documents relating to my career and working life, and Dropbox for more personal items. I can’t see that I’ll be using wikis any time in the near future, but I’m glad I now know how to contribute to one and set one up if I do ever need to.

1 comment:

Sarah Wolfenden said...

Thanks for this. I haven't quite got round to this Thing yet but reading your comments is useful.