Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Remind me why we are using a wiki again?

Me: "Last time we tried to write a document collaboratively, it was a big mess, because of version control problems, and because everyone kept emailing me stuff to add in. And that was only with three people involved! This time there'll be eight of us!"

Boss: "So we could just use the project wiki to develop the document."

Me: "No, because the project wiki is public, and indexed by google. We don't want this document to be public. And we can't set the project wiki to private, because of [stupid software issues]. But we could use google documents to create something we can all access and edit, and that will handle version control for us."

Boss: "Google wha-?"

I explain. He looks blank. "Okay. But just explain to me again. What's a google? Is it like my Firefox thing?"

Realising I should work with what he knows instead, if I actually want him to adopt the technology: "All eight of you already know how wikis work, right? Well in that case, I'll set up a private wiki on [site that we already all use for something else]."

Boss: "Can't we just all email you stuff and get you to keep the versions straight?"

Me: "Can't we just NOT do that?"

Finally everyone agrees to use the private wiki. I set it up, explain to everyone who forgot how to access the site how to find their username and password. Walk a few people through using the system. I set up all the necessary pages and headings so that no one needs to learn any formatting commands, but can just click under the appropriate heading and add text.

Boss: "I want to write all my text in RED!"

Me: "Um, why?"

Boss: "Because that's what colour it is in MS Word when I use track changes! And that way everyone will know it's me!"

Me: "Well, we don't really need to know who wrote what in this document. But if you want to, here's how to format things in red."

Boss: "What? I have to type what? Brackets? And "red"? What a pain! Isn't there a drop-down box in the file-menu-whatsit?"

Me: "You don't HAVE to colour your text."

Boss, in email to the rest of the group: "It looks like it might be too complicated to use the wiki, so I think we should all just type up what we want to add in MS Word, and get StyleyGeek to put it in the wiki for us."

Le Sigh.


Bardiac said...

Bummer! That person needs to either learn a bit about technology or deal with not using red.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

LOL! I feel your pain.

I once suggested using Google Documents for collaborative writing projects, and got shot down too, although at least one person in the group was familiar with the concept...

Ianqui said...

Good lord. How is the wiki easier than using google docs? Oh right, it's not.

I'm always surprised at people's resistance to using google if they don't already have it. Like my very tech savvy mom. We needed to coordinate something on a calendar, but she doesn't have a google account, so she refused to set it up. Weird.

yolio said...

Story of my life! Google docs isn't perfect, but it is incredibly simple to use, much simpler than any of the alternatives. But my collaborators act like I am forcing them navigate some complicated labyrinth. I keep telling them: you can write it in MS Word and then just Copy and Paste into the google doc. But somehow the they don't seem to have mastered the technique of copy of paste. I cannot understand how they don't understand this. I am honestly baffled.

EF said...

Been there, done that. I had the same idea for a grant writing process in which the various contributors would provide ideas and chunks of text for the PI on the grant (not me) in a shared Google Docs document. End result: "Dear EF: Here is some stuff, could you put it on the Google Docs document?" AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I threw in the towel after 2 weeks of that.

Anthea said...

Ohh noo..I feel your pain. That really sucks. I find it frustrating that some people just do not want to deal with new technology.