for Work and Play
Table of Contents:
net.TUTOR © 1997-2013, The Ohio State University Libraries
3. Social Media for Work and Play: Collaborate
People bring different expertise or ideas to a project. Combining these strengths together accomplishes things working independently doesn’t. But while it’s often nice to work on things together, distance can be a barrier. Working with people at a distance is increasingly common.
Imagine you have to write a paper with several people in a group who lived in different areas of the country. Here’s how this might have been done in the past and now:
Long and slow
Now we’re talking!
Example: mail your colleagues a manuscript and wait for their feedback
Example: Phone your colleagues one at a time to discuss a manuscript
Example: Email your colleagues a manuscript, integrate comments, and re-share.
Example: Use Box to work as a group virtually and share manuscript changes live.
While all of the above methods allowed for collaboration, several of these methods are very asynchronous and often require someone willing to “pull everything together” in one document.
New tools, especially wikis and document sharing programs, allow people to add and edit content and allow for their collaborators to see those as soon as they’re saved. What’s more, discussion among group members can be attached to the document for all to see. Now collaboration can be either synchronous or asynchronous.
Wikis are designed for cooperative development of web content. Wikipedia, an online collaborative encyclopedia, is probably the most famous example. Although many wikis, such as Wikipedia, are open for anyone to edit, many are very focused on a core group of editors (and may also be limited to specific viewers). For example, a wiki may limit editing (and even viewing) to a group of experts in a field or a class. Useful features of a wiki include:
- Quick updates
- Tracking edits
- Remembering previous versions
- Easy linking to other content
Document sharing programs allow for users to share, and in many cases edit, documents (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.). Take the collaborative paper mentioned at the top of this page. While many programs have allowed multiple viewers, newer ones allow for multiple people to be editing a document at once and changes from multiple people can be integrated.
Two examples to be aware of are:
- Google Docs (now integrated into Google Drive) is a free tool that allows for file sharing and collaboration on these files.
- Box is a similar service, which has a limited free option for sharing files. OSU has worked with Box to provide access to BuckeyeBox, which has 50GB of storage capacity.
There are two major types of items you may want to avoid sharing via such programs:
- Sensitive data (like health records with names, social security numbers, etc.)
- Proprietary information (classified materials, copyrighted items not available to everyone in the group independently, etc.)
There are tools also designed to manage an entire project from start to finish, with more functionality than the above document sharing tools. Basecamp is a fee-based tool (a free trial is available), but there is a list of over 45 Basecamp alternatives, some of which are free.