Over the weekend it struck me how different (i.e. frictionless & efficient) my information work-flow has become because of all the Google services I use. It’s part of my “cloud-first” mindset when thinking about creating and sharing content. And I use the term “content” in the broadest meaning; email is content, a document is content, this blog post is content, even a “tweet” I consider content.
Here is how I got started with “cloud-first” thinking:
April Fools Day 2004, almost nine years ago, I made a dramatic email paradigm shift. I left Outlook and jumped whole heart into Gmail. With Outlook I obsessively organized incoming email into byzantine folder structures. Projects, customers, personal, business. For some reason whiling away the hours organizing my email made me feel good, but that was in reality a ”false high.” And to top it off a wasted effort; the folder structure became stale over time.
Gmail, with it’s folder-free, conversation-centric, fast search approach to email management was the complete opposite user experience and it just “clicked” for me.
“How could I have not seen this before?” It took thinking outside the (in)box to transform email. No more dragging to folders. Simple tagging works better. Conversations threaded automatically. Woot!
2. Google Apps
In 2007 I started using Google Apps for content creation. A similar eureka moment occurred. Just like moving from Outlook to Gmail, moving from Word + Excel to GApps Docs + Spreadsheets was a fresh, modern approach to collaborative content creation. There was so much friction in the old world. Working on a shared document required emailing the file around or keeping track of versions on a file share. With GDocs the editing was in place, versions maintained, and collaboration speed increased. Now I get hives when someone sends me a Word file looking for comments and edits.
We’re fast approaching the era where the “file,” residing on a file system, will not be the default work product unit. It will be a shared document in a collaboration space designed for multi-user editing.
It took some patience with Google as they incrementally improved Gapps. But today it’s pretty good and getting better faster.