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February 17, 2008


Victor J. Cook, Jr.


Yes, in one important respect the notion of online word processors replacing Word is like saying people should eat less. Certainly that’s true for all professional users (like you and me) who spend many hours a week on various screens with lots of complex applications all served up in a Windows environment. It may be years before we turn to a suite of online applications.

But I also spend a lot of time writing documents with co-authors and editors. For example, before it’s published every one of the articles I post on my web log is edited by my son Christopher. And sometimes I ask friends for quotes that are outside my area of expertise – as I did on this one.

After previewing Buzzword I decided to write this post collaboratively. No one was happy about working in another new application, especially one that’s available online. But I talked them into it. And what a difference it made! Instead of sending the draft Word document by email to my son; waiting for a reply with track changes; comparing with a split screen his recommendations with my original; accepting them line by line; and saving the final draft, we did all that online with a shared document. He entered all his comments with a red background and I accepted them by deleting the background all in less than ten minutes! My friends added their comment on the same Buzzword document in familiar Adobe bubbles.

The real surprise was that TypePad accepted the Buzzword document complete with hyper-links and formating. Using Word I first had to convert to plain text, copy and paste into TypePad and then re-create all those pesky little links one at a time.

In addition to collaborative authors, I’ll bet the more casual professional Word user will find Buzzword a relief from the Word environment. And let’s face it, the more casual professional as well as occasional amateur users account for the vast majority of those who ever write documents on a computer. For these folks it's not like asking them to eat less. It's more like asking them if they want better tasting food for lunch!

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.


Christian Gross

I came by way of Investor Geeks (you commented). I have to say nice thinking. Do I agree with it? I will say a hesistant no. I am hesistant because of the economics between Adobe and Yahoo. But from a synergies perspective, well that is pretty interesting.

BTW the notion of online word processors replacing Word is like saying people should be eating less. Sounds good, but very few do.

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