google docs as a wiki?

The "On the other hand" selfportrait

I love Google Docs. The fact that you can share documents online with anyone in a matter seconds and collaborate on documents is something I really miss when it’s not there. Like at work. With MS Office. And emailing spreadsheets and documents back and forth. Blegh.

In fact, the whole document publishing/sharing thing even allows you to use it as some sort of rudimentary open wiki site. You can share any text document and publish it as an internet page. But you can also open this page up for editing by anyone, with or without a Google Account. How’s that for openness?

// how it works

Once your document is published, you change the share settings to public for the internet, and allow anyone on the world wide web to edit the page as well. You don’t even need a Google Account to be able to edit the page, but if you have one you have some more options of course.

It’s awesome.

When two people are editing the document at the same time, they will even see the changes happening live on their screen. By clicking the name in the top right corner of the other person viewing the page, they can even chat about what they want to do with the page. There’s more room for collaboration by using the comment feature. Just select a portion of text and insert a comment for it (you can only see those when you edit though).

And it’s all free.

// downsides?

You don’t have the same level of control over this kind of editable open page as you’d have in a regular wiki website of course, but then again you didn’t have to set up a website either now did you?

Depending on who’s editing your page might evolve into something that looks like a good old Geocities or Myspace mess of clashing image, font types and colours, but if people behave a little it might turn out just fine.

Maybe not to be used for too large and open projects as it’s too easy to vandalise, but for smaller groups this might be the cheapest and easiest way to set up a shared online mini-site open to anyone who receives the link.

If you want to give it a shot, there’s a completely editable page right here, with roughly the same text as I’ve posted here.

Photo by dhammza, cc-licensed

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