As the Google brand continues to imprint itself in our lives, there is no question that it is also imposing itself on ad agencies and marketers as it seeks to quietly unseat the media sellers as well.
This remarkable organization and its grand scheme to be everything to everyone, for information and communication, has even cloaked itself in a social network under its Google Documents application.
Google Docs, an online shared environment for excel documents, photos, and collaborative exchange, with a determined set of participants, sets the stage for and expanded social network.
Consider the following:
- Controlled multi-user environment: Simultaneous usage by multiple persons. Access is controlled by the person who created the spreadsheet--users can be set as collaborators or just viewers.
- Presence indicators: All users sharing the spreadsheet are informed of the presence of others in the form of a chat window, temporary notifications, and a mobile avatar (see next point).
- Real-time text chat: Plus voice if you use Skype.
- Unique, mobile avatars: Each user is represented by a uniquely-colored outline on an individual spreadsheet cell. A simple avatar, but distinct, and user-controlled. It can move around the spreadsheet.
- Spatial relationships between users: My avatar can be beside, above, or below yours.
- User-generated content: All Google gives you is a blank spreadsheet. The users add the content. I don't think it's possible to add proper graphics to a spreadsheet, but it is possible to color a cell and to add colored text to a cell. It is also possible to lock rows and columns, which could provide a visual effect.
- Dynamic content: It's a spreadsheet, so it's possible to put formulas into cells which rely upon and affect other cells..
- Persistent world: A Google spreadsheet endures over time--it is a "live," changeable, but persistent environment which remembers its state after the users have logged out.
- Communication with outside world: Users can opt to be notified by email when the spreadsheet has been changed, on a global, sheet, or cellular level. I believe a Google Doc can also be embedded in a web page.
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