Google Groups out of Beta

In my CNet feed this morning came this post: Google Groups drops beta

While in this day and age of perpetual beta this may not seem like a big deal, it is still worth mentioning if only to put it back on folks’ radar. Google Groups is a great little collaborative tool that provides the standard Discussion, File Sharing and membership administration apps of most group tools. It also provide access to a team-based web-page development tool using the online web development tool found in Google Pages.

Here’s where I feel that Groups falls short.

  • No integrated calendaring feature – although this is available if you use Google Apps and have your own domain, is seems to me to be one extra and unnecessary hurdle compared to Yahoo Groups which has a calendar built-in. Even better if it would create a shared calendar which would reach out and integrate into each members own Google calendar.
  • No integration with Docs & Spreadsheets – if this is going to be an effective group tool, why does it not integrate naturally with Google Docs instead focusing on old school file sharing?
  • No collaborative bookmarking – although I suppose you could just create a Feed2JS script which pulls a, furl or diigo feed.
  • No integrated chat feature – It wouldn’t take much to tweak Google Talk and set it up so that members had a mini-chat feature to work in real-time. 

Google is only a hair’s breadth away from developing a world-class collaborative tool. Please don’t stop now.

If you have suggestions for improvements to Google’s apps, please send them a note. Their improvements form is available here. I’ve submitted these as part of my own wish list.

Here’s an uber-dream: Google creates all of these apps, packages them together and then makes them available as an open-source package for folks to integrate into their own local environments. As Dave Cormier has pointed out in a number of EdTechTalk podcasts, there is a bit of nervousness among certain environments that all of one’s data (private or otherwise) is under the control of a single entity. And although Google’s motto is to “Do no evil,” we’ve all seen that times and circumstances change. How incredible would it be if we could create mini-Google offices on our own campuses or for our own businesses or organizations and be responsible ourselves for the integrity and access control to the information we develop? I imagine there are still ways for Google to create a revenue stream that would make this a win-win scenario for all of us and remove some of the temptation in the process. I’m not a big conspiracy theorist, but as they say “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

[tags]google, groups, collaboration [/tags]

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