Panopticon or Panacea? Googledocs, Word Processing, and Collaborative Real-time Editing

  • Mark M Perry Simon Fraser University
  • Taylor Morphett Simon Fraser University
Keywords: Digital scholarship, Knowledge production, Tools and practices, Virtual research and learning environments

Abstract

Thirty years ago a debate broke out in humanities departments over word processing programs, new software that increased the speed of drafting, while simultaneously allowing continuous editing – a feature that some critics found problematic. Collaborative real-time editing (CRTE) represents a similar technological change to composition. CRTE is technology incorporated into Google Docs that allows multiple users to edit the same document simultaneously. However, the socialization of the drafting process brings new challenges: it exposes writing at an earlier stage, and changes composition from a private act into a semi-public one. CRTE could transform the lonely nature of drafting into a collective experience. We ought to consider how best practices, combined with interface design, can mitigate the drawbacks of socialized drafting, while maximizing its benefits.

Author Biographies

Mark M Perry, Simon Fraser University
Mark Perry is a Maters Student in the English Department at Simon Fraser University 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6. Email: mmp12@sfu.ca.
Taylor Morphett, Simon Fraser University
Taylor Morphett is a Masters Student in the English Department at Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6. Email: tmorphet@sfu.ca.
Published
2015-10-29
Section
Articles