Would you like my last Rolo? (Thing 13 – CPD23)

Picture from flickr Last rolo By Simon Miller http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonmiller/390479113/lightbox/

Thing 13 is all about sharing and it is good to share as I am always pointing out to my children.

So here is my take on the three bits of software.

Google docs

I use this all the time in my personal life. I find it really great that I can access my documents on whatever computer I am on and I don’t lose any formatting. I have all sorts of docs on there, from knitting patterns to the family budget and also the ADDRESS BOOK OF DOOM. Our friends seem to move house a lot and everytime we needed an address we were never sure which was the most current, so we have an address book that my husband and I can share and update, plus we can access it on our phones outside the post office when we are trying to send off their birthday presents.

I also share a word document with friends. Every year we have a girly holiday to Centre Parcs and I have very organised friends (a bit too organised some would say).

Too much organisation?

We have a spreadsheet of the details of what we are booked in for, what food to take, who’s taking bikes, quantity of gin to buy, etc etc etc. I moved this to a google doc as I thought it would be handy to have a document we can all see  and edit. This does seem to work, which is great, this year I have my packing list without having to think about it myself (sometimes it is useful to have friends more organised than yourself).

This doesn’t really answer how I would use it at work and I am not sure I would. It would be great if you are working collaboratively on something with colleagues as everyone can go in and amend the document and you can track the changes made as well, with far less emailing around. However we tend to be quite Word centric and I think the final document would have to be a Word document which means we lose some formatting in the conversion so I think I will be circulating emails for some time yet. I am also not sure how keen work would be for some documents to be circulating away from the college network.

Which brings us onto Dropbox. This is used by work and I have used it with colleagues when we all needed to look at photo’s that were too large to circulate. There seemed to be extra levels of logging in that made the process seem faffy so I don’t think I would be using this for every day projects. Also we have the advantage of having shared drives at work so as long as you work in the same team it is generally easier to store the files on the shared drive and access them that way. Although you do have to be in the same team and it isn’t easy to get access to other teams shared drives, which isn’t practical for one-off short projects. In summary, I see the use of this for large files but would rather use the shared drive if possible.

And finally Wiki’s, a few years ago I really saw the advantage of these. I pestered and pestered to get a Wiki for our enquiry desk. Our enquiry desk is staffed by rota of staff from all over the library and the fairly static web pages we had for help were a bit clumsy and it took forever to find the info you needed. I thought a web page we could all update with info would be great. The good news is that we now have one, the bad news is I never use it. How did I get to this point. It is rarely updated by the staff on the desk. I thought it would be great that if the printers weren’t working you could add that message to the Wiki and the person coming onto the desk after you would be up to date, but it isn’t used that way. Plus I do find Wiki’s awkward to edit, there is something about them I don’t find intuitive. I added myself t0 Librarian Day in the Life this July and the process of doing that took longer than it should, from logging in to editing my entry. The work wiki seems to be even less intuitive, I frequently get Lost in Wiki Space and no Matt Le Blanc to come and rescue me. Now I admit the fault is probably with me and I don’t take the time to learn the navigation and idiosyncracies, but I am not sure I should have to. Surely software should be becoming more intuitive (Take note database suppliers!). Also it would be nice if they looked prettier, what is wrong with wanting a pretty interface, perhaps one with cats?

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About Lynne Meehan
Librarian interested in teaching, infolit, ux and open access. Also Mum, knitter, baker, walker and very amateur photographer. I may also like cows.

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