Collaboration

[1] Collaborative Desktop Publishing
[2] Collaborative Web Pages
[3] Social Networking

1. Collaborative Desktop Publishing

Google Docs (www.docs.google.com)

Description: Launched in October 2006 by search engine Google, Docs is a free web-based word-processing application that allows users to store, create and edit documents online based on Writely, an earlier product produced by Upstartle. Notably, it provides the ability for multiple users to sign in and collaboratively discuss and make changes to a document. Documents can also be imported from other programs by e-mail or uploaded from a web interface (the program supports .doc as well as .odt). The software puts some limitations on the use of the program: a user can have up to 5,000 documents, each with a maximum size of 500k (plus 2MB for each image).

User Profile: According to a blog posting from TechCrunch, there were 1.6 million monthly users of Google Docs and Spreadsheets as of December 2007. Growth curves to this point are available at Compete, a website analytics service. At present there appears to be no available information as to how these users breakdown geographically. However, the statistics seem to show that the Google suite of products are the most popular online office products currently available. See here.

Google Spreadsheets (www.docs.google.com)

Description: Announced in June 2006, Google Spreadsheets is a free web-based spreadsheet application that allows users to store, create, and edit documents online. Merged in a beta version with Google’s online word processing program and accessible to all account holders, the service also allows for multiple users to collaboratively discuss, make changes, and watch the activity of others on a spreadsheet. Users can also set to be alerted via e-mail if specified parts of a document are changed. As in the case of Google Docs, there are some limitations on size: a user may not have more than 1,000 spreadsheets, each no larger than 100,000 and less than 40 sheets.

User Profile: (Note: much of the information under the listing for Google Docs is relevant here, reposting). According to a blog posting from TechCrunch, there were 1.6 million monthly users of Google Docs and Spreadsheets as of December 2007. Growth curves to this point are available at Compete, a website analytics service. At present there appears to be no available information as to how these users breakdown geographically. However, the statistics seem to show that the Google suite of products are the most popular online office products currently available.

2. Collaborative Web Pages

Wikispaces (www.wikispaces.com)

Description: Run by Tangient, Wikispaces is a free online service providing a user-friendly interface for users to set up and administrate a wiki. Since all content is hosted on Wikispaces servers, the company handles all hosting, backups, and software upgrades. Premium service, ranging from $5 to $800 a month, provide for increased storage capacity, greater flexibility with domains, more wikis, and increased security. It also markets special packages for businesses and larger organizations looking to coordinate via wiki.

User Profile: Precise numbers are unavailable on Wikispaces users, though the site currently claims to have over 1,000,000 members and 450,000 wikis as of May 2008. It’s current Alexa page rank is 4,500. Though no menu exists to easily browse through public wikis, the site suggests that the service is ideal for “families, classrooms, sports teams, community groups, book clubs, fan clubs, party organizers, wedding planners, and more.” It gives some examples for uses here, including implementing wikis as an educational tool and for group organization.

3. Social Networks

Facebook (www.facebook.com)

Description: Launched in 2004, Facebook is a free social networking site that allows users to join into friend networks based around city, workplace, school, or region. Users can then create profiles, upload pictures, and connect with others through messaging and a “wall” for communicating in shorter form. Users can also post publicly viewable “notes” that function as blog posts and appear on a “mini-feed” that displays friend activity on the site. As of May 2007, Facebook also allows for third-parties to develop applications for their platform, which has led to an explosion of added functionality to the site, ranging from fundraising for social causes and widgets for playing board games.

User Profile: Since its creation, Facebook has grown its eligible user base beyond its original narrow focus on the Harvard University student body, eventually coming to encompass anyone aged 13 and over. As of January 2008, it currently counts more than 60 million active users worldwide. The countries with the most users are the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom (the top 10 regions in order of active users beyond these three are, in order: Australia, Turkey, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, France, Hong Kong). It is also currently banned in a few countries, including Syria and Iran. A June 2007 article by researcher Danah Boyd suggests that Facebook adopters are predominantly middle- to upper middle- class youth.

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com)

Description: Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is a free social networking platform designed to coordinate online interaction for business and professional development. Like many other services in this vein, users can create profiles that are shared with friends (here, “connections). However, the fields enabled de-emphasize the personal characteristics of the user in favor of creating spaces to describe work experience and education. The platform also provides information on those that are second- and third-degree separated from the user with the intention that introductions can be made through a trusted contact. True to its purpose, the site also provides a space for potential employers to list jobs visible through the network. In addition, users can also leave recommendations for others, which appear in their profile.

User Profile: As of May 2008, LinkedIn reports more than 20 million registered users from over 150 different industries. Though no reliable public information appears to exist for how these users are distributed geographically, LinkedIn has rolled out mobile editions of its services in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. In terms of age, BusinessWeek reports that as of January 2007, the average LinkedIn user is 39 and makes $139,000 a year – a noticeably older demographic when compared to Facebook and other popular social networking services. To date, the extent to which LinkedIn has been used to coordinate political action seems limited.

Myspace (www.myspace.com)

Description: Opened in 2003 and later purchased by News Corporation, Myspace is a free social networking service which allows users to blog, provide personal information about themselves to friends, organize events, and share photos, music, and video with each other. As of 2008, Myspace, like Facebook, has also allowed third-party developers to create added functionality to their platform. The site also offers regional versions of the site tailored to local conventions and advertising (a full list available at Wikipedia) The site also hosts a popular profile service for musicians, who can upload their music content in mp3 format into an embedded Myspace player.

User Profile: As of September 2006, online news site The Register was reporting Myspace with over 106 millions users. A recent TechCrunch article suggests that this number has held steady in the past two years. Beyond private individual users, political groups and presidential candidates have also increasingly used Myspace in recent years in an effort to connect with younger supporters and to better spread their message (see the Obama and Clinton presidential campaigns) As a June 2007 article by researcher Danah Boyd suggests that student Myspace adopters are largely socially marginalized youth and relatively lower on the socioeconomic scale (relative to Facebook users).

Orkut (www.orkut.com)

Description: Designed as a side project by an employee of the same name, Orkut is a social networking platform launched and operated by search engine company Google since January 2004. Like many described in this category, Orkut encourages users to contribute information about themselves to compile profiles which are shared with friends. Users can also join “communities,” which aggregate links and postings about a particular subject or common interest. The service also provides some hosting for photos and allows for video embedding on profiles. Users can also use “scrapbooks” which allow for messaging between users.

User Profile: Orkut’s site makes dynamic demographic information about its users available to registered account holders. As of June 24th 2008, close to 75% of Orkut users are under 30 years old. The service is also notable for seeing a broad section of its user base come from the developing world. Brazil currently is the largest nationality represented, comprising 53% of Orkut accounts. In second place is India, with 17% of user base. The service was also popular in several Middle Eastern countries, but has since been banned permanently by Iran and temporarily by the United Arab Emirates in 2006. However, no reliable numbers seem to exist for the size, beyond an unsupported assertion in Orkut’s Wikipedia entry setting the number at “around 120 million.” In practice, the “communities” function has been occasionally used to criticize public figures and forward political agendas, which has led to a backlash in some countries where Orkut has been popular.

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2 Responses to “Collaboration”

  1. kw Says:

    ** DEMOCRACY + INTERNET = ACTION TRIGGERS **

    I am pleased to find your socially responsible site.
    I have created a site with the purpose of giving people a way to actually act on issues and organize others easily.

    http://actiontrigger.no-ip.org/

    I welcome your thoughts and feedback

  2. Nabin Says:

    This is great. The Internet and Democracy Project.
    This will help to do social responsiblities in site.

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