So I thought I would do the case FOR OLC.
Because I use use it all the time, totally.
Oh no hang on, I use email and FTP, because those give us controlled collaboration. Like Ross, and most of the rest of the real world, I have never simultaneously edited a document or spreadsheet with a fellow worker. Nor have I ever felt the need.
When a billion dollar deal gets the nod or not, I want to be sure which version of the deal evaluation tool got used. Wiki stlye free wheeling editing isn’t going to cut it.
Sadly I think this web/browser/cloud crowd have locked onto the wrong metaphor. Collaboration might be what final year students do on their projects. Group think, thought showers are great for managers at all levels, workers, sadly have to be a bit more accountable
In the real world its much more like software development, version control, check in – check out, diffing versions – these things are useful (and missing for spreadsheets).
Some good uses for OLC: things like shared todo lists, bug tracking etc, are more ‘work control’ than actual work artifacts.
Other things like perhaps shared whiteboarding, which I actually think could be pretty handy, are more to do with talking about work/understanding the requirements, than actually doing the work.
In short I think collaboration is great for talking about work, pointless for actually doing it. Of course it is brought to us by a whole class of people who do nothing but talk about work, from chief architecture astronaut down. (Of course when I say ‘talk’ I mean figuratively, leveraging a veritable plethora of pointless browser nonsense in the process). And I’m talking about a whole industry here not any one company.
In fact I think the absolute best use for OLC tools is to discuss, design and specify OLC tools! (And then manage the build process – the actual build will be done by some peope sitting at an editor somewhere)
On-line collaboration – for doing work, or just ‘talking’ about it?
[can we call it meta-work? from a meta-industry?]