Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Future of Applications

So over in my list of links I've included Zoho. I've had it sitting there mostly as a placeholder so I could remind myself to write about the Web 2.0 sites that have been such a hot item lately. I don't have a complete list of such collaboration sites, but technologies and names involved include Zoho, Google Docs (of course), SimDesk, and several others listed here on Wikipedia.

When I first heard about the concept of using applications online (and I think it was Microsoft who originally was talking about it), I just couldn't get it. Why would folks want to use such applications over a network when the files could be intercepted, the applications were susceptible to network outages, and people didn't actually "own" the software? 

But I was introduced to Zoho at work, and I discovered the value of these online applications. I had a project that I had to do at home and I needed to keep track of a mountain of information. In addition, I couldn't have my spouse constantly asking me for where the info was. 

So by using Zoho projects, I was able to set up a project there that allowed me to keep track of all the little things that needed to be done and set it up so the spouse could easily find information. And thus I discovered the two key attributes of online apps: (1) the ability to work together with others in collaboration, and (2) the ability to find an app that I needed without having to spend money on something I may only use once or twice. 

I still am concerned about my information being online, but frankly most of us don't have anything that important or serious. I mean, if someone use Zoho Projects to keep track of a house remodeling project, who really cares? I still don't think individual privacy should be compromised, but that doesn't mean that we have to use such tools for things that are truly private. Obviously if you are working with information that must be secure, using an online collaboration tool is still not a great idea. But these tools do fill a need, one that I had not considered before.