Kewl App Alert: Conference Notetaking with Google Docs

So I was at a Government conference on Collaboration on Friday (Twitter feed: #goc3), taking notes on Google Docs and someone asked me if I was multi-tasking, blogging while listening. I was flattered at the idea that I would be so talented as to divide my attention so effectively between the voices in my head and those on the panel, but alas no, that is not a gift bestowed upon me.

In fact, thanks to wifi and electrical plug-ins around the conference location, I spent the day live-blogging on Twitter and taking copious notes via Google Docs. The second the conference wrapped up, I published my notes online and shared the URL with the folks via the #goc3 hashtag.

And then the comments started...
"Keener!"
"How'd you post those?"
"Where are they posted? Is that on your blog?"
"How did you DO that?!?"

I was a bit surprised. This form of notetaking has been my standard for the past couple of years. My own personal Getting Things Done approach.

Clearly, gDocs is a secret that not a lot of people have tapped into, and so I'm going to share my key reasons for using them:

1. Remote Access
I can access gDocs from anywhere, which means I can have access to my notes from any device, including my Android phone. (C'mon, you'd think I'd let a Google post go by with a droid shout-out?!) So whether at home or at work, I can grab my notes if I need to refer to them. I also have gDocs set up to work offline, so even if my laptop's not connected, I've still got a copy on my hard drive.

2. Collaborative note mashups
I went to a conference with a colleague last year and we both took notes, but caught onto different key messages. By sharing my Google doc with her (as simple as sending her an email invite from the doc), she was able to merge her notes into mine, and together we created a comprehensive reference doc.

3. Instant publishing
The second the conference ended yesterday, I hit publish and my notes were online with an URL that I could tweet, email, bookmark. My notes were immediately available to both onsite conference participants and remote observers who'd been following the day via Twitter. Instant knowledge-sharing. In line with the collaborative spirit of the conference.

Google Docs Blog has an excellent post about sharing and publishing: Sharing Google Docs Like a Pro.

There are lots of other great features about gDocs, in general. I use them for drafting blog posts, writing docs, creating presentations & spreadsheets, collaborative projects which are geographically dispersed, archiving personal docs, posting templates that I tend to use a lot, so I can access them without VPN-ing into my work server.

To learn more about the pure awesome of gDocs, feel free to ask me a question in comments or next time we bump into each other. (Clearly I have way more to say than can be covered in a single blog post)

Or check out the Official Google Docs Blog. (Wait, there's a Google Docs Blog? Of course there is. I mean, really. Why wouldn't there be a Google Docs blog? Nope, not happy enough to just blog about Google Docs from the Official Google Blog, Google has an entire blog dedicated to Google Docs. 'Cause their awesome.)

Got a gDocs tip or great usage idea to share? Leave a comment!



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