Confessions of a Google docs fiend

May 6, 2010

It all started innocently enough:  there was that “Documents” link,  hanging out  right above my Gmail,  whispering  to me that I should try it:  Just once.  And so I did. And now, not only am I hooked on Google docs, but I work hard to get other people hooked, to share my habit so we can do docs together,  even though I  know  –yes, it’s becoming increasingly clear– Google isn’t always good for us.  But, oh, it’s so easy and gets me out there so fast.  And maybe you should try it too.  Just so we can hang out together?

I used to be one of those normal, sober writer/editors: every morning, even before finishing my first cup of coffee, I’d sit down at my computer and fire up Microsoft Word, ready to  “process” verbiage all day.  But then, as each version of Word was released, it took longer and longer to boot up, and it did less and less for me while demanding that I pay more and more attention to its commands.   Superficially, it still seemed to have a lot  going for it — more all the time, was what other people said– but  it started hiding things from me,  I couldn’t figure out how to do what it wanted so it would do what I wanted, and  I was getting less and less of what I needed.

Word didn’t really like doing stuff with my colleagues and friends– it had attachment issues, and when my friends and I were talking fast, furiously throwing  thoughts and ideas back and forth, Word had a hard time keeping up.

So when Google docs beckoned I thought, “hey why not?”   And Gdocs quickly pulled me into a new world: one where docs were shared without much trouble or fuss.    And you could link docs together, easily,  and you could hook up with, link to, whatever  you could find floating in the “cloud”.  It felt so good.  Gdocs wasn’t as polished as Word, and there were some things you couldn’t do with Gdocs that you could with Word, but on the whole G was a whole lot easier to be with.  The days flew by.

And now it’s been awhile– couple years, I guess.  Lately, I admit,  I’ve had some bad moments with Gdocs. There was that thing, a few months ago, that G did with Buzz, spreading our business around, telling everyone what we’d been up to and with who.  It certainly made me think hard about the relationship. And there are other ways Gdocs has been changing a lot:   keeps pushing kinky new stuff for us to do together, like new tricks with spreadsheets.  I’m open-minded, I think a lot of the new stuff will be good.  But at the same time, I don’t like the fact that  Gdocs looks different almost every day now, has been acting strangely at times, and is refusing to save (offline) like before . G says it’s only temporary, while it gets its act together.  I hope so.

Also –and I’m not ashamed of this, in fact I think it’s a good thing– I’m always trying to get my friends and people I work with to get to know Gdocs better, so we can all do stuff together up there in the cloud.  You know what I’m talking about.  But G  doesn’t always  open up to strangers right away and they often find that off-putting.  That’s  just at first though;  usually if they take the time to learn just a couple basic things about G, everything goes very well.

Anyway, here’s why I’m really telling you all this.  A couple of weeks ago, I bumped into Word.  And Word said it was changing, too.  It was gonna try out this cloud thing,  see if it could get a little looser about sharing.   Well. . .so. . . I agreed to get together later,  just to chat, check out Word’s “beta.”  But I haven’t heard from Word since,  so I dunno if that’ll happen. And anway, Word,  if you’re reading this:  I’ve been thinking.   Maybe the cloud’s not the right place for you, you’d have to change really a LOT to fit in there.   And this thing you mentioned about maybe using Facebook to share docs:  I didn’t want to say it to your face, but I dunno,  seems like kind of a lame attempt to be cool.  People don’t really use Facebook for stuff like that.  But who knows, maybe it’ll work, keep in touch and let me know how it’s going!

But I gotta say, thinking about Word again put it all in perspective.  Gdocs and I are pretty happy together.  And I hope you don’t think it’s too weird that I  keep talking about sharing some of that happiness with you…. up to you though…I mean if you don’t want to feel better…have it all go easier…

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