I’m sure that almost everyone has heard that Writely has been purchased by Google. I’ve been using this wiki-like program for a while and have found it very practical for collaborative word processing. It sure beats sending huge files around by e-mail and trying to figure out five colours of track-changes plus a bunch of comments in Word or even in OpenOffice.org. Writely is basically a wiki (multi-editor web page), but has a simple word processor interface and imports/exports from popular file types like .doc and .pdf.
So far I’ve had little luck in convincing many others that Writely is a better tool than “Word + e-mail”. People are stuck in their old habits and with the first sign of difficulty they revert to their comfort zone. Now that Writely has some street cred from Google I’m hoping that it will be easier to convince others to try it. The interface has been steadily improving and I’m sure that Google cash will help it even more. New users may have to wait, as Writely seems to have temporarily closed the door on new accounts. Existing users can add only four new collaborators. I’m sure this will change shortly.
Personally, I see the move of word processing to the Web as a real productivity advance for what used to be known as CSCW (computer-supported collaborative work).