Online Word Processor
We already use Writely.com to collaborate on articles at our section at the Cleveland Clinic and several members of the group (including me) are very happy with it. No more emailing back and forth different versions of one document and you can see all the revisions.
For example, KidneyNotes and me are currently working on an abstract together. He is in New York and I am in Cleveland but if he edits the document at the same time as me, I can see the changes in real time.... And with Writely, all collaborators always have the latest version of the document.
Google Spreadsheets, which is released today, is the logical next step -- now you can combine the data online and share it with other researchers. Importing or exporting a MS Excel document is easy. Whenever you are ready with the data analysis, just switch to Writely to prepare the abstract and manuscript. HIPAA compliance is a must -- no patient-identifiable information can be stored on Google servers.
Google Spreadsheets and Writely will definitely be very useful to physician researchers around the world. Whether they are called "Google Office" or not, these 2 services will change the way we work.
It Is Good to Share
The key difference between the good old MS Word and Excel, and the new online collaboration tools is that you can "share" a document with other people. They can be invited as viewers or editors.
Currently, Google Spreadsheets is a limited experiment and only the people who signed up very early this morning can use the product. If you are a researcher interested in trying Writely or Google Spreadsheets, send me an email, and I can invite you as a collaborator.
It's nice to share. Google Blog.
Google Spreadsheet? and Inside Google Spreadsheets. Google Blogoscoped.
A look at Google's Spreadsheets. The Unofficial Google Weblog.
Now, Free Ways to Do Desktop Work on the Web. NYTimes.
Image source: Google