Friday, January 2, 2009

Starting the New Year with a Fresh View on Web 2.0

After a short holiday, I returned to my desk to start preparation of a couple of projects ahead of me (still no sign of the crisis in my business!). One tasks is the preparation of a keynote on the use of the Web in social change, which I will present in a German forum end of January. This is an opportunity to check the latest developments. My point of departure is the blog of Stowe Boyd, my Web 2.0 guru. It is good to see that Stowe is as productive as ever.

One of his older postings caught my eye: Tools I Use, already published in September 2008. Stowe is always up to date with the latest applications that help to simplify the life of a virtual worker. The article is a good summary of the best tools for sharing and working.

Interesting to see how Stowe gradually moves away from desktop applications and tries to get as much as possible done on the Web. Well, this tendency is not new (it has been predicted already years ago). However, until recently the range of available Web based applications was incomplete - so far, for certain tasks you had to use the programmes on your personal computer. Apart from that, you had to spend a lot of money, a fact which didn't give you any reason to move from offline to online.

Now, there are free applications for virtually any task that a desktop can do, and more. A major shift was the introduction of Google Apps which provides a full office suite, and lately affordable conference applications like Dimdim (free of charge for up to 20 participants). By the way, I have not yet found an online application that replaces my Adobe Acrobat professional, and I myself still use the classical offline Word Office package. One major limitation I find is the simple fact that you cannot access the Internet everywhere you are, for example in airplanes or in remote aeras. Even with my German mobile data flatrate I experience high costs for Internet use abroad when I don't find a free WLan or DSL connection. So, at times I still prefer to have good old offline applications. But I predict that in a couple of years, Internet access will be granted everywhere in the world maybe except in the heart of the Sahara, free of charge or with a global roaming contract.

Another factor limiting me to fully shift to online tools is that most of them have a basic free offer but if you want to enjoy the full capacity of the tool, it costs you. Most of the premium tools cost around 10 US$ per month. If I used 5 of them, this would quickly add to 600 US$ per year, a price which would allow me to buy at least one to two average offline software packages.

In Stowe's post, I found a couple of applications that I hadn't heard of so far, and I am currently experimenting with Evernote, which promises: Evernote helps you remember everything across the devices and platforms that you use. Let's see whether this is true - it would slow down the obvious effects of my age. More soon (if I don't forget...)

After all - here we are talking about tools which allow social networks to cooperate. The mechanisms of creating a virtual social movement is less related to tools but to the webliteracy of individual actors and their readiness to contribute and share. As I have described before, social development lags behind technology development. Like in real life, virtual change management is about people and their willingness to change and effect change.

3 comments:

  1. Holger-
    Thanks for mentioning Dimdim in this post. In the web conferencing space, it's pretty clear you'll want to be online to collaborate on materials. For the times when participants can't be online, we provide a free conference call number with the Dimdim Free accounts.

    At this point I blend my online and desktop tools use. I'm a very active Evernote user (4000+ notes). I use Google Docs for some shared materials (there is now an offline mode for when you're traveling). I'm finding myself more heavily relying on DropBox (getdropbox.net) for file backup and sharing. And I use Remember The Milk (rememberthemilk.com) for task management (which also has an offline mode using Google Gears.)

    As the online services have been improving, more emphasis has been placed on making your content available to you when you need it -- not just when you're online.

    Thanks again!

    -k
    Kevin Micalizzi, Community Manager
    Dimdim Web Conferencing / www.dimdim.com
    e: kevin@dimdim.com / twitter: @meetdimdim
    On Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/dimdim-facebook

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  2. Hi Kevin,

    thanks for your comments. While I like a lot of features of Dimdim, I must say that my original enthusiasm has faded a bit. I experienced a few technical hick-ups which lead me to returning to other technologies such as Skype conferences at least for the VoIP. In particularly, I do not like that in most Dimdim conversations I had, the delay of transmission was not acceptable, likewise the echo the conversation partners hear when another partner does not use a headset but a loudspeaker. Finally, in my last conversation, there were quite substantial interruptions of the transmission and my partner had difficulties to hear me. Well that happens with all VoIP systems.

    Obviously, the number of active speakers besides the convener is limited to 4 and the converner/moderator has to grant microphone rights. That is not convenient for me, where most of my meetings are democratic meetings in which everybody has the right to speak and not sales presentations.

    I understand very well that you need to make a business and I appreciate that there is a premium version with much advanced features. However, as long as the basic version does not fully satisfy my demand, I am having trouble of spending extra money for a service where I don't know what I actually will get in terms of quality.

    Regards,
    Holger

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  3. Holger-
    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly and for the candid feedback. We're working on a release (hopefully by end of January) that will improve our infrastructure and networks to help us scale better with the increasing demand.

    I'll share your feedback with the product team on having the ability keep all microphones open simultaneously.

    Thanks.

    -k
    Kevin Micalizzi, Community Manager
    Dimdim Web Conferencing / www.dimdim.com
    e: kevin@dimdim.com / twitter: @meetdimdim
    On Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/dimdim-facebook

    ReplyDelete