A googol is an extremely large number consisting of a 1 with 100 zeros after it. Google is a misspelling of that very large number, that has turned into a very large internet powerhouse. “Googling” something has become synonymous with running an internet search, stealing the crown from services like Ask Jeeves and Yahoo. Of course Google is known for many other things as well, google mail (gmail), google calendar, google reader (for blogs), Blogger, Chrome (internet browser) and the Android phone operating system. But perhaps the most useful tool in Google’s arsenal is probably the service that is least utilized and understood, google docs. Don’t know what it is? Well here is a 3 minute video to explain the concept:
In summary, google docs is essentially an online version of the Microsoft Office suite of services. This video, being a little dated, only highlights the documents (word), spreadsheets (excel) and presentation (powerpoint) aspects of google docs. You can also create forms, drawings and create sub-set folders for projects called collections.
Forms are essentially questionnaires and surveys that you create and can send to other people to be filled out. Drawings allows you to create pieces similar to Microsoft Paint, but as I have no experience with either, I will allow you to figure out how it could be useful to you.
So what is the main strength of google docs? Well have you ever had a paper lost because of sudden power loss, computer malfunction or other calamity? Microsoft’s auto saving can’t help you if your hard drive is corrupted and wasn’t backed up…you just lost your work.
Now imagine the same situation, but this time with google docs. You either created your document new on google docs, or uploaded an existing one to be edited. Your computer goes down for the count, but all is not lost! Instead of being reliant on your hard drive to stay in working order, you were relying on your internet browser and google’s servers. Your document is safe because after you, or docs itself, saves the initial work, it auto saves after every few key strokes. Better still, your work is accessible from any computer, or mobile device, with enough internet bandwidth to open a webpage. Disaster avoided!
What’s even better, as mentioned in the video, is the sharing and collaboration feature. Who needs to meet for group work? Create what you need in google docs and send the link to your partners and let them do their part from wherever they are. If more than one person is editing a document at the same time, you can have a real time chat with him/her within your work…no need for a million emails.
Yes, to utilize google docs you need to create a free google account, but what do you have to lose? Don’t fall victim to unexpected surprises and physical technological limitations. When in doubt, use google docs!
Here are some screenshots of my personal google docs, with examples of the various types of documents you can make and upload: