The Cloud isn’t all that

Something struck me as interesting this morning. I’ve written two articles for the new Flex Authority Quarterly Update, and we used Buzzword to hand the articles. The Author writes, shares with editor, who shares with tech and copy editors. Then we do the dance of copy/technical editing and review.

The other day, Editor in Cheif Jeff posed a question. “Move to word, from Buzzword?” There were a few reasons, easier approval/dismissal of tracked changes and comments, etc.

as of this morning there are 13 messages in that thread, all saying “Yeah, Word is fine.”

Many of the authors cited being able to work offline as a major plus for Word.

I gotta say I agree. I love Google Docs,  I use buzzword for 360|Flex and The Flex Show, but there’s something to be said for being able to work when there’s no WiFi. Like aboard planes, trains and automobiles, in the backwoods, at the ski resort, etc. There’s still a lot of the country, let alone world that are offline, so sometimes it’s nice to not have all your tools rely on the cloud. I use MobileMe to keep my macs in sync, I also make use of my iDisk a lot! I sync the entire thing locally, because I’ve wanted to work and guess what, not online, no iDisk. Thankfully iDisk syncing doesn’t completely suck, so it’s a pretty good experience.

As an example, when I was in Japan earlier this year, WiFi was non existant. I never saw an access point once. The hotel didn’t offer it, they had a ethernet cord in the wall for $15 a day. The Starbucks (yes, really) had none, the local coffee shops, had none. I suspect because everyone’s phone had internet, and they text and IM through that. While being offline isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially on vacation, it’s nice to have the option. I didn’t.

I think we’re in an interesting time; on the one side we have Adobe, Microsoft, Google, et al. pushing for Photoshop online, Buzzword, Office online, google docs, google reader, etc. They’re pushing really hard to make us want to be online all the time. To only edit docs in the cloud, to store our docs, our emails, our RSS feeds, etc all in the cloud. However on the other side of that “go online” agenda is the reality that wifi isn’t everywhere. Laptops don’t ship with built in cellular modems (OK some small few do), and tethering plans range from free to really expensive, if you have a phone that can even do it. The truth is, we’re offline a lot. More than I think Adobe, Google and Microsoft would like to think.

In my opinion we’re still quite a ways from a place were “being online” is a ubiquitous condition. I think the real technology winners will be the companies that can make their offerings work in both worlds. Buzzword as an AIR app. Google docs syncing locally through Google Gears. I actually saw a gDocs offline gears app, but haven’t seen it in a while, and the 1 time I tried to use it, it wasn’t remotely in sync, not sure if I needed to open it once in a while to sync or what. I assumed since it was gears it’d be in sync from the last time I was online? Guess not.

What do you think? Are you using only cloud based tools? Still using Word or Pages, etc to keep things locally where you always have access?

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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