Charles Arthur: The Geek

Come together and we can work it out
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The Independent Online

It's useful for all sorts of remote collaboration, which I'm convinced will become more important as economic pressures make it less important to travel and more important to share data.

The company behind Writeboard, 37Signals, has a slew of other offerings for people who want to do collaborative or individual planning. It has Ta-Da List ( which does to-do lists, Backpack ( for organising yourself with e-mails and to-do lists and so on, including images; and at the peak of its offerings is Basecamp (, which offers full-blown project management. And Writeboard isn't the only site where you can do word processing on the web. There's Synchroedit (, which is still being developed; Jotspot Live (, which is part of JotSpot, a company that does much the same as 37Signals; and Writely ( Or, if you prefer to have the document on one computer, and let people edit it from around the net, there's MoonEdit for Windows ( and SubEthaEdit for Mac OSX (

Have you noticed how easily you can slip into thinking that because you're editing something, and using your computer to do it, that you're somehow editing it "on" your computer? The growth of such web-based applications could be the first signs that one of Microsoft's richest monopolies - the Office suite - is going to be eaten away from the ground up.

But there's more than just word processing and collaborative editing on the way. Take a look at the "unofficial" - you're sure to find at least one that makes you think: "I can find a use for that right now!" They are not going to make the biggest enterprises now using Office stop and throw it away. But if such people realised how cheap it would be to store collaborative documents on their own servers, and to use the open-source mixture of Javascript and web services to store all their own work, the Microsoft sales staff might have an uncomfortable time as they tried to explain why they charged so much money.

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