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Google Goes Wiki With JotSpot

Google acquired JotSpot, a Wiki company.  The transaction itself was - appropriately enough - announced through separate Weblog postings on the Google and JotSpot Web sites.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.  

A few months ago, JotSpot unveiled JotSpot 2.0, a wiki that went beyond the traditional boundaries of a Wiki by allowing the creation of collaborative calendars, spreadsheets, file repositories, documents, and photo galleries.  By adding a knowledge-worker friendly interface to their offering, they created a platform that might have the ability to support small organizations' needs for knowledge sharing and collaboration.As David Goldes wrote in this space back then, "wikis aren't that common yet."  They are, he noted, "easy to deploy and offer a good knowledge sharing and collaboration platform for organizations that have limited IT resources."  Wikis may not be more common in the enterprise but they do have more mindshare.  More and more CIOs and line-of-business executives are asking us about wikis.

What scares managers and CIOs away from wikis, however, is that anyone can edit anything in a traditional wiki.  A wiki - "wiki wiki" is Hawaiian for "hurry quick" - is a Web page that allows users to add and edit content collaboratively; the term also refers to the software platform that supports wikis.  According to the Wikipedia, the first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was named after the "Wiki Wiki" line of Chance RT-52 buses in Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii.

JotSpot's permission model, added in 2.0, gives complete control over who can change and/or see information on a page-by-page basis.  It also added pre-defined page types that allow the creation of collaborative calendars, spreadsheets, file repositories, documents, and photo galleries.  The spreadsheet tool supports formulas, the ability to wrap text in a cell, copy and paste, and the ability to 'shift-click' to select a range of cells; the calendar page type allows users to create shared calendars; the file repository page type supports file sharing; the photo gallery page support allows the creation of pages with images and photographs (uploaded images are displayed as thumbnails and a slide show).  A link picker allows knowledge workers to create links to pages inside and outside of the wiki as well as to documents within the wiki.  All in all, JotSpot 2.0 started to sound more like an enterprise Collaborative Business Environment than a wiki.  And now, as part of Google, this is all free.

So what is Google doing with JotSpot?  Ultimately, wikis may prove very valuable to smaller organizations in need of good knowledge sharing and collaboration tools but lacking large IT departments.  They are not a cure-all for  knowledge sharing and collaboration ills.  Only time will tell if a wiki suite is the right solution, but it sounds  as if Google is making it easier for companies of all sizes to avail themselves of tools that previously only a large company might have in place.

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