Don Marti

Fri 27 Jan 2006 05:43:13 PM PST


I'm thinking about starting a new web site. I'll call it Wordprocessoropedia. It'll be an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. But you'll use one tool for search and for browsing article titles and notes, then if you want to read an article, you'll launch a different application to read the article text. You'll also use that application to edit the article, but you'll have to go back to the first application to attach your edited version back to the rest of the encyclopedia.

The advantages will be that you can apply whatever fonts and margins you want, to give your article a unique, personalized look.

Hey, wait a minute. That's a really dumb idea. It's like the opposite of social software. Anti-social software. We're spending our work days manually rowing through attachments, when—as soon as we get a little choice of whether or not to participate—we know there are better ways to do things, and seek them out.

I think that's finally changing. The new Writeboard web-based collaborative editor from 37signals is a really promising example.

Steve Gillmor joins the post-word-processor elite: "What, you say, no word processor? Well, I could have her download Open Office, but for now I just have her write in Gmail and use its spellcheck, then paste into whatever blog app I set her up with, probably Flickr so she can mix in images."

I need a word processor on my laptop like I need a Selectric typewriter in my laptop bag. (the Steve Gillmor link is via Mark Jen (HTML, strangely enough.))

Yes, there are still a few formal documents for which we need canonical printed output, but in the long run we're probably better off seeing them as opportunities for web-based "stylizers of the searchable" than for word processing. Example: letters to Congress.