I’ve had some really bad experiences over the years, endeavouring to use MS Word for collaborative writing projects. The track changes feature looked very good to me when I first discovered it, but has caused me not a little grief on more than one occasion, trying to sort out who changed what and why, and then endeavouring to get a final version which properly accommodated all the appropriate changes.
I knew there were other collaborative tools available for group writing projects, but as far as I could figure out they were enterprise tools, needing an enterprise IT department and budget to have and run.
So I was very interested to find today, on Dennis McDonald’s All Kind Food blog, a very informative post about the collaborative authoring tool Writeboard:
This was my first time using a collaborative tool like Writeboard. Here’s the Writeboard website: http://www.writeboard.com. All you have to do is create a free account, post the initial text, create a password controlled group of authorized users, then people in different locations can edit and compare versions of the text using a standard web browser over the Internet.
Dennis is one of my co-moderators on the LinkedIn Bloggers group and he and another member of the group, web strategist Jeremiah Owyang, had used the tool to co-author a white paper.
In the comments on Dennis’ post as above there is additional, helpful information, about the Writely product, also free, and SocialText – ‘Enterprise Social Software’ – which is not free (to work out the prices you need to click through to the various products).
I’m going to work on giving Writeboard a spin, in the first instance.