Dispatches From Blogistan http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com A blog in support of the Peachpit book with tips for citizens, journalists, and others of the commons.Thu, 17 Jan 2013 18:05:28 +0000http://wordpress.org/?v=2.7.1enhourly1greetings from the future http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/greetings-from-the-future/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/greetings-from-the-future/#commentsTue, 27 Dec 2011 20:18:56 +0000adminhttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/?p=244scapurprisingly, the book is still on a few shelves! Which is lovely, of course, but I don’t update this site much these days. I’ve put links to two of the most evergreen chapters in the right-hand column here: Chapter 2, History of Open Discourse and Chapter 6, History of Journalism. Feel free to comment.

These days, you can find me on a variety of services. Click any of the links below to stay in touch.

Twitter @zorca (my old tried and true account)
Twitter @suzannestefanac (a slightly shinier account)
Google+
Facebook
Flickr
LinkedIn

If you’d like to visit a site that compiles many of the submissions to the above services, check out:
feral intelligence.com

Don’t stop!

Suzanne

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scapurprisingly, the book is still on a few shelves! Which is lovely, of course, but I don’t update this site much these days. I’ve put links to two of the most evergreen chapters in the right-hand column here: Chapter 2, History of Open Discourse and Chapter 6, History of Journalism. Feel free to comment.

These days, you can find me on a variety of services. Click any of the links below to stay in touch.

Twitter @zorca (my old tried and true account)
Twitter @suzannestefanac (a slightly shinier account)
Google+
Facebook
Flickr
LinkedIn

If you’d like to visit a site that compiles many of the submissions to the above services, check out:
feral intelligence.com

Don’t stop!

Suzanne

]]>
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bloggers protected by shield laws? http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/bloggers-protected-by-shield-laws/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/bloggers-protected-by-shield-laws/#commentsTue, 08 May 2007 16:08:16 +0000adminhttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/bloggers-protected-by-shield-laws//feed/Scap.gifo-called “shield laws” have provided protection for at least some journalists who refuse to divulge their sources, something that history teaches us is an imperative if the public is to be exposed to wrongdoing in government and other seats of power.

In the United States, 32 states have passed such laws. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 presented before the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Rick Boucher (R-Va.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) would extend these protections at the federal level. The bill defines journalism as “the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.” An identical bill has been introduced in the Senate by Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

If passed, this bill would not only provide protection for journalists at a national level, the wording makes no distinction between professional journalists and bloggers. There is precedent for extending protection to bloggers. Last year, California courts ruled that rumor sites like AppleInsider and Powerpage did not have to divulge the source of their stories about unreleased Apple products.

All shield laws exclude certain types of reporting: stories that endanger national security, expose trade secrets, disclose health information, or, murkily, those in which “nondisclosure of the information would be contrary to the public interest.” In contested cases, judges overseeing cases covered by shield law must balance these exceptions against “the public interest in compelling disclosure and the public interest in gathering news and maintaining the free flow of information.”

The bill is supported by Newspaper Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, among others.

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/feed/Scap.gifo-called “shield laws” have provided protection for at least some journalists who refuse to divulge their sources, something that history teaches us is an imperative if the public is to be exposed to wrongdoing in government and other seats of power.

In the United States, 32 states have passed such laws. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 presented before the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Rick Boucher (R-Va.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) would extend these protections at the federal level. The bill defines journalism as “the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.” An identical bill has been introduced in the Senate by Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

If passed, this bill would not only provide protection for journalists at a national level, the wording makes no distinction between professional journalists and bloggers. There is precedent for extending protection to bloggers. Last year, California courts ruled that rumor sites like AppleInsider and Powerpage did not have to divulge the source of their stories about unreleased Apple products.

All shield laws exclude certain types of reporting: stories that endanger national security, expose trade secrets, disclose health information, or, murkily, those in which “nondisclosure of the information would be contrary to the public interest.” In contested cases, judges overseeing cases covered by shield law must balance these exceptions against “the public interest in compelling disclosure and the public interest in gathering news and maintaining the free flow of information.”

The bill is supported by Newspaper Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, among others.

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laws for bloggers http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/laws-for-bloggers/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/laws-for-bloggers/#commentsThu, 03 May 2007 05:46:52 +0000adminhttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/laws-for-bloggers//feed/Ocap.gifver on the Aviva Directory site, you’ll find a well-researched compendium, “12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know.” Beneath topics like “Whether to Disclose Paid Posts,” “The Legal Use of Images and Thumbnails,” and “Laws that Protect You from Stolen Content,” the article offers tips and pointers to deeper information. Given that ignorance of the law is not a defense, this is a good page to bookmark. ]]>/feed/Ocap.gifver on the Aviva Directory site, you’ll find a well-researched compendium, “12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know.” Beneath topics like “Whether to Disclose Paid Posts,” “The Legal Use of Images and Thumbnails,” and “Laws that Protect You from Stolen Content,” the article offers tips and pointers to deeper information. Given that ignorance of the law is not a defense, this is a good page to bookmark. ]]>http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/laws-for-bloggers/feed/freebase sets us free, maybe… http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/freebase-sets-us-free-maybe/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/freebase-sets-us-free-maybe/#commentsSun, 11 Mar 2007 08:10:21 +0000adminhttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/freebase-sets-us-free-maybe//feed/Dcap.gifanny Hillis never thinks small. One of his recent projects is a clock for the Long Now Foundation that is intended to last ten thousand years. Yesterday Hillis launched freebase, a wiki-like database that he and his crew hope will become a true “data commons,” collecting and somehow making sense of vast stores of information on every topic. Seeded with large chunks of Wikipedia and other resources like musicbrainz, freebase invites the public to not only add to the knowledge base, but to port what they like to their own pages, thanks to open APIs (Application Program Interfaces) and Creative Commons Attribution licenses.

At first blush, freebase sounds a bit like Google Base, a repository for user-uploaded information that launched a little over a year ago. What distinguishes freebase, however, is its combination of community-generated information with a cunning overlay of descriptive metadata. Web 2.0 meets the Semantic Web.

If enough people upload content to freebase and tag it intelligently, freebase could signal the next step beyond Google and other search engines that return long pages of possible matches based on algorithmic computations. Theoretically, freebase could return an actual answer to your query, one constructed from hints hidden in those interlinked metadata tags. It’s a noble goal and one that Hillis might just be up to.

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/feed/Dcap.gifanny Hillis never thinks small. One of his recent projects is a clock for the Long Now Foundation that is intended to last ten thousand years. Yesterday Hillis launched freebase, a wiki-like database that he and his crew hope will become a true “data commons,” collecting and somehow making sense of vast stores of information on every topic. Seeded with large chunks of Wikipedia and other resources like musicbrainz, freebase invites the public to not only add to the knowledge base, but to port what they like to their own pages, thanks to open APIs (Application Program Interfaces) and Creative Commons Attribution licenses.

At first blush, freebase sounds a bit like Google Base, a repository for user-uploaded information that launched a little over a year ago. What distinguishes freebase, however, is its combination of community-generated information with a cunning overlay of descriptive metadata. Web 2.0 meets the Semantic Web.

If enough people upload content to freebase and tag it intelligently, freebase could signal the next step beyond Google and other search engines that return long pages of possible matches based on algorithmic computations. Theoretically, freebase could return an actual answer to your query, one constructed from hints hidden in those interlinked metadata tags. It’s a noble goal and one that Hillis might just be up to.

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keeping up with web 2.0 http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/keeping-up-with-web-20/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/keeping-up-with-web-20/#commentsThu, 01 Mar 2007 23:20:24 +0000adminhttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/keeping-up-with-web-20//feed/Jcap.gifust when you think you might have a handle the plethora of websites taking advantage of user-generated content and many-to-many communications, a list like this compendium of Web 2.0 services reminds us that the world is evolving at a remarkable pace. Arranged by category (Audio, Bookmarking, Calendar, Design, Games, Images, Mapping, News, Projects, Search, Tagging, Video, Wikis, and a dozen or so more), the page lists each entry with a short description and a link. Right now it’s a snapshot in time. It will be interesting to see if the authors manage to keep up the list. ]]>/feed/Jcap.gifust when you think you might have a handle the plethora of websites taking advantage of user-generated content and many-to-many communications, a list like this compendium of Web 2.0 services reminds us that the world is evolving at a remarkable pace. Arranged by category (Audio, Bookmarking, Calendar, Design, Games, Images, Mapping, News, Projects, Search, Tagging, Video, Wikis, and a dozen or so more), the page lists each entry with a short description and a link. Right now it’s a snapshot in time. It will be interesting to see if the authors manage to keep up the list. ]]>http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/keeping-up-with-web-20/feed/mining historical news http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/mining-historical-news/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/mining-historical-news/#commentsTue, 03 Oct 2006 00:58:56 +0000suzannehttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/mining-historical-news//feed/Tcap.gifoday, Google launched a news search service that lets us sift through 200 years of news reports from publications both grand in scale and local. Called News Archive Search, the service mines more than just the usual web search fare. Drawing on content contributed from venerable publishers like Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian, as well as aggregators like Factiva, LexisNexis, Thomson Gale and HighBeam Research, the service provides a kind of historical record for specific search topics, replete with a “timeline” link that sorts entries chronologically. Not all the referenced documents are free, but in the least, researchers will be be aware of the breadth of content available to them. ]]>/feed/Tcap.gifoday, Google launched a news search service that lets us sift through 200 years of news reports from publications both grand in scale and local. Called News Archive Search, the service mines more than just the usual web search fare. Drawing on content contributed from venerable publishers like Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian, as well as aggregators like Factiva, LexisNexis, Thomson Gale and HighBeam Research, the service provides a kind of historical record for specific search topics, replete with a “timeline” link that sorts entries chronologically. Not all the referenced documents are free, but in the least, researchers will be be aware of the breadth of content available to them. ]]>http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/mining-historical-news/feed/the book is in stores! http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/the-book-is-in-stores/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/the-book-is-in-stores/#commentsTue, 26 Sep 2006 21:42:52 +0000suzannehttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/the-book-is-in-stores//feed/Wcap1.gifell, okay, it’s in SOME stores and my publishers tell me it should be more widely available within the next week or two. Plus, of course, it’s for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ignore the promotional text on Amazon (somehow unvetted text was uploaded at some point and we’ve had trouble getting it updated). I couldn’t be more pleased to finally be touching a hard copy. This probably sounds crazy, but I never printed out any of the text while writing the book and so only now have something tangible in hand.

Also, many thanks to Cory Doctorow for the stunning review on BoingBoing today. I’m humbled and grateful.

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/feed/Wcap1.gifell, okay, it’s in SOME stores and my publishers tell me it should be more widely available within the next week or two. Plus, of course, it’s for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ignore the promotional text on Amazon (somehow unvetted text was uploaded at some point and we’ve had trouble getting it updated). I couldn’t be more pleased to finally be touching a hard copy. This probably sounds crazy, but I never printed out any of the text while writing the book and so only now have something tangible in hand.

Also, many thanks to Cory Doctorow for the stunning review on BoingBoing today. I’m humbled and grateful.

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warner music embraces the future http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/warner-music-embraces-the-future/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/warner-music-embraces-the-future/#commentsMon, 18 Sep 2006 23:10:11 +0000suzannehttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/warner-music-embraces-the-future//feed/Tcap.gifhe folks over at ars technica report that Warner Music Group has forged an agreement with video newcomer/behemoth YouTube to host its entire music video catalog. That in itself would be ground-breaking these days, but in addition Warner invites fans to create their own videos using Warner songs as soundtracks. In return, Warner will get a cut of the advertising revenues. This all bodes well for the video hosting upstart, enhancing their revenue possibilities and suggesting a path for financial sustainability. Alex Zubillaga, EVP for digital strategy and business development sums up Warner’s stand,

“This agreement establishes a model by which content companies can transform consumers’ creativity into a legitimate commercial enterprise that will benefit fans, artists and copyright holders.”

Good luck to Warner and YouTube in this joint venture. It’s a brave move, but one that seems very forward thinking.

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/feed/Tcap.gifhe folks over at ars technica report that Warner Music Group has forged an agreement with video newcomer/behemoth YouTube to host its entire music video catalog. That in itself would be ground-breaking these days, but in addition Warner invites fans to create their own videos using Warner songs as soundtracks. In return, Warner will get a cut of the advertising revenues. This all bodes well for the video hosting upstart, enhancing their revenue possibilities and suggesting a path for financial sustainability. Alex Zubillaga, EVP for digital strategy and business development sums up Warner’s stand,

“This agreement establishes a model by which content companies can transform consumers’ creativity into a legitimate commercial enterprise that will benefit fans, artists and copyright holders.”

Good luck to Warner and YouTube in this joint venture. It’s a brave move, but one that seems very forward thinking.

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anonymous blogging explored http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/anonymous-blogging-explored/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/anonymous-blogging-explored/#commentsSat, 09 Sep 2006 20:27:28 +0000suzannehttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/anonymous-blogging-explored//feed/Bcap.gifloggers who choose to mask their offline identities behind a pseudonym or no name at all are increasingly common, raising questions about the integrity and verifiability of the content posted by these individuals, while at the same time allowing certain bloggers the freedom to post truths and opinions that would otherwise go unpublished. The ensuing debate is unlikely to be resolved in any near term. In the meantime, high-profile instances provide unique opportunities for exploring the positive and negative aspects of anonymous posting.

Josh Marshall over at the popular Talking Points Memo has been showcasing a guest blogger known only as TPM Reader DK and today Marshall addresses some of the questions raised by the anonymity of the individual. He details his relationship with DK over time, assuring his readers that he believes DKs posts to be truthful and well-founded, and to some extent he explains the reasoning behind the anonymity (as a lawyer with a midwest firm, DK chooses to publish anonymously for professional reasons.)

Marshall writes:

All things being equal, I’d prefer DK write under his/her own name. But I understand their need to remain anonymous, at least for now. And I think, on balance, the voice and point of view DK brings to our virtual pages outweighs the downside of anonymity.

Aside from the tortuous singular/plural gambit, Marshall’s willingness to tackle the issue head on seems like the right way to address reader concerns. The transparency that comes with blog publishing introduces new ethical dilemmas and we’re watching as solutions evolve in real time. It is instances like this one that will help each of us to define our own criteria for gauging trust within blogs.

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/feed/Bcap.gifloggers who choose to mask their offline identities behind a pseudonym or no name at all are increasingly common, raising questions about the integrity and verifiability of the content posted by these individuals, while at the same time allowing certain bloggers the freedom to post truths and opinions that would otherwise go unpublished. The ensuing debate is unlikely to be resolved in any near term. In the meantime, high-profile instances provide unique opportunities for exploring the positive and negative aspects of anonymous posting.

Josh Marshall over at the popular Talking Points Memo has been showcasing a guest blogger known only as TPM Reader DK and today Marshall addresses some of the questions raised by the anonymity of the individual. He details his relationship with DK over time, assuring his readers that he believes DKs posts to be truthful and well-founded, and to some extent he explains the reasoning behind the anonymity (as a lawyer with a midwest firm, DK chooses to publish anonymously for professional reasons.)

Marshall writes:

All things being equal, I’d prefer DK write under his/her own name. But I understand their need to remain anonymous, at least for now. And I think, on balance, the voice and point of view DK brings to our virtual pages outweighs the downside of anonymity.

Aside from the tortuous singular/plural gambit, Marshall’s willingness to tackle the issue head on seems like the right way to address reader concerns. The transparency that comes with blog publishing introduces new ethical dilemmas and we’re watching as solutions evolve in real time. It is instances like this one that will help each of us to define our own criteria for gauging trust within blogs.

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desktop vs. browser apps http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/desktop-vs-browser-apps/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/desktop-vs-browser-apps/#commentsFri, 08 Sep 2006 21:31:28 +0000suzannehttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/desktop-vs-browser-apps//feed/Acap.gifrguments about the advantages and disadvantages of web-based applications are raging across the net. If the topic interests you, the discussion going on over at Read/Write Web is well worth a read. On that site yesterday, Ebrahim Ezzy posted an article titled Webified Desktop Apps vs Browser-based Apps. In it Ezzy cites downsides to the new web-based apps, including being at the mercy of the network and server load, issues with authentication, security, privacy, and reliability, as well as questions about backward compatibility as these new apps evolve. In a post titled Discussion: Webified Desktop Apps, Richard MacManus highlights the main points being raised by other bloggers. Those favoring web-based solutions counter Ezzy by noting that apps and databases accessed via browsers have the advantage of being available from any connected computer, are platform agnostic, and are well suited to collaborative projects. Richard MacManus, the man behind the Read/Write blog, wisely cautions that we don’t need to think in either/or terms. Still, it pays to understand the rationale behind both sides of this important question as we negotiate increasingly complex content waters. ]]>/feed/Acap.gifrguments about the advantages and disadvantages of web-based applications are raging across the net. If the topic interests you, the discussion going on over at Read/Write Web is well worth a read. On that site yesterday, Ebrahim Ezzy posted an article titled Webified Desktop Apps vs Browser-based Apps. In it Ezzy cites downsides to the new web-based apps, including being at the mercy of the network and server load, issues with authentication, security, privacy, and reliability, as well as questions about backward compatibility as these new apps evolve. In a post titled Discussion: Webified Desktop Apps, Richard MacManus highlights the main points being raised by other bloggers. Those favoring web-based solutions counter Ezzy by noting that apps and databases accessed via browsers have the advantage of being available from any connected computer, are platform agnostic, and are well suited to collaborative projects. Richard MacManus, the man behind the Read/Write blog, wisely cautions that we don’t need to think in either/or terms. Still, it pays to understand the rationale behind both sides of this important question as we negotiate increasingly complex content waters. ]]>http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/desktop-vs-browser-apps/feed/citizen journalist cook book http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/citizen-journalist-cook-book/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/citizen-journalist-cook-book/#commentsWed, 23 Aug 2006 19:48:50 +0000suzannehttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/citizen-journalist-cook-book//feed/Tcap.gifhere is much being written about the pluses and minuses of citizen journalism and its influence on professional news gathering, but there’s nothing like a report from the trenches. An excellent example is Hartsville Today, a joint effort by the Hartsville Messenger and the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, in collaboration with a grant from the Knight Foundation. Over the past year, the website has begun featuring articles posted by the staff of the Messenger, as well as stories and commentary posted by members of the community. The staff learned a lot about recruiting and encouraging citizen journalists; they also learned a lot about adapting to the new dynamics inherent in bottom-up reporting. They’ve taken all that new knowledge and published a “cook book” specifically aimed at small daily and non-daily newspapers. The resulting report, Hartsville Today - The first year of a small-town citizen-journalism site, can be downloaded as a .pdf file. Tips range from soliciting stories to budgeting, ad sales, and technology choices and will be of interest to anyone interested in real-life applications of collaborative reporting. ]]>/feed/Tcap.gifhere is much being written about the pluses and minuses of citizen journalism and its influence on professional news gathering, but there’s nothing like a report from the trenches. An excellent example is Hartsville Today, a joint effort by the Hartsville Messenger and the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, in collaboration with a grant from the Knight Foundation. Over the past year, the website has begun featuring articles posted by the staff of the Messenger, as well as stories and commentary posted by members of the community. The staff learned a lot about recruiting and encouraging citizen journalists; they also learned a lot about adapting to the new dynamics inherent in bottom-up reporting. They’ve taken all that new knowledge and published a “cook book” specifically aimed at small daily and non-daily newspapers. The resulting report, Hartsville Today - The first year of a small-town citizen-journalism site, can be downloaded as a .pdf file. Tips range from soliciting stories to budgeting, ad sales, and technology choices and will be of interest to anyone interested in real-life applications of collaborative reporting. ]]>http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/citizen-journalist-cook-book/feed/writely definitely worth checking out http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/writely-definitely-worth-checking-out/ http://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/writely-definitely-worth-checking-out/#commentsSun, 20 Aug 2006 18:25:51 +0000suzannehttp://www.dispatchesfromblogistan.com/writely-definitely-worth-checking-out/ver the past few months, I’ve off and on been using Writely, a web-based word processor that is elegant, fast, and free. Google acquired the app and it just relaunched. I’ve been playing with it a bit and here’s what I like best about the newest version:

* full-featured word processor (styles, colors, tables, images, comments),
* files can be accessed from any browser window,
* offsite backup every 10 seconds,
* can save and download docs in a variety of formats (html, pdf, rtf, odt or Word),
* can compare and revert to previous versions,
* collaborative editing in real-time with whomever you choose,
* folksonomic tagging support!

I’m sure there’s more and yet the app doesn’t feel like it’s succumbing to a deadening “feature creep.” The only piece missing (and perhaps I just haven’t discovered it yet) is outlining. I think and write in outline format and have had to tease some of my work on Writely into a fake outline format, but that is fairly simple. You can even post directly to your blog, which is what I’m going to do with this post. If you use Writely, let me know what you think.

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ver the past few months, I’ve off and on been using Writely, a web-based word processor that is elegant, fast, and free. Google acquired the app and it just relaunched. I’ve been playing with it a bit and here’s what I like best about the newest version:

* full-featured word processor (styles, colors, tables, images, comments),
* files can be accessed from any browser window,
* offsite backup every 10 seconds,
* can save and download docs in a variety of formats (html, pdf, rtf, odt or Word),
* can compare and revert to previous versions,
* collaborative editing in real-time with whomever you choose,
* folksonomic tagging support!

I’m sure there’s more and yet the app doesn’t feel like it’s succumbing to a deadening “feature creep.” The only piece missing (and perhaps I just haven’t discovered it yet) is outlining. I think and write in outline format and have had to tease some of my work on Writely into a fake outline format, but that is fairly simple. You can even post directly to your blog, which is what I’m going to do with this post. If you use Writely, let me know what you think.

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