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.