by Sherry Heyl
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Information does not just include company or educational websites, it means anything from an online diary to a collaborative project.
How many times have you worked on a document or spreadsheet where you are constantly emailing people asking for feedback and changes. Back and forth and back and forth. Imagine if you could simply share the document, privately, online where you can collaborate at your convenience or in real-time. That is what Google Docs allows you to do.
You can create and share a Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form or Drawing. Each item that you create is hosted on Google’s network, which means you can access your information from any computer simple by logging into you Google or Gmail account. You can give people the ability to make changes on the document or just view the document.
There are still several limitations to Google Docs including formatting and the ability to track changes.
Some of the challenges of Google Docs are resolved in fabulous ways with Google Wave which is now open to the public.
For the more visually inclined, Google can organize the world’s information and make it 3D.
lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others
Like most of today’s web, Google earth is created by the community for the community. People who volunteer to share their images of their town and their businesses can use Sketch Up.
Sketch Up has both a free and a Pro version of their 3D software.
Many nonprofits are using Sketch Up to visually share their stories. One featured use of Sketch Up is Project Spectrum which is providing autistic children the tools to express their creativity.
Google also enables anyone with a standard computer and Internet connection to become their own media. If you want to tell your stories in front of a camera you can share them on YouTube, optimize them to be found by people seeking content similar to yours and enable the world wide community to share your videos via links or by embedding them in their own sites.
If you are more of a photo journalist, you can share your photos on Picasa. Picasa allows you to organize, edit and share your photos to everyone or to just a select few.
Finally if you are looking for a place to share your story in text, add some photos, and embed a video or two, you can launch a blog using Blogger. Blogger is an easy to use, free service where you can document your story and share it with the world.
Many of these services have numerous direct competitors which offer similar and sometime superior benefits. However Google having their own services in the game enables them to understand how and why the community is publishing information and to develop ongoing ways to continue to make that information universally accessible and useful.