Online Collaboration

Metamagazine ArticlesLooking for online collaboration tools I came across the following info from the Mashable Blog:

Business Productivity – Maker of collaboration tools including Basecamp (others listed below). – A mixture of social network and productivity applications. – Online collaboration directed towards small and medium sized businesses. – Centralized cash flow, documents, calendars and more for a team or small business. – A full work suite for project teams including spreadsheets, file sharing, calendar and more. – Allows you to work on projects off-line and then sync them when you can login. – Share concept designs and allow invited workers to mark-up, comment, and give feedback.

Confluence – An enterprise-class wiki with features such as PDF exporting. – Allows groups to share documents, calandars, contacts, and files. They can then access them from a number of different mobile devices. – Upload your documents, share, and allow others to highlight portions or edit. – Share projects, tasks, documents and timelines with your entire team. – Allows two computers to connect securely to share their desktops for collaborative work and transfer of files. – Share files, calenders, projects, and then create RSS feeds to share your public ones. – Allows for communication over projects, and centralizes work to make sure version is always current.

Glide – Facilitates group meetings to review projects together.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets – From the behemoth known as Google, collaborative documents and spreadsheets. – Allows you to share lists, databases, file sharing, and wikis for your team. – Designed for collaborative work in the fields of PR, advertising, marketing, design and more. – Allows real-time sharing of documents to work on them with colleagues. – Get collaborative software and backup services in one package. – Offers standard collaboration, but also the ability to build new applications for your team to use and even market. – Work on projects online or off-line, then synchronize as soon as you are back. – Build wikis, blogs,create documents for your team to work on, and have the ability to sell your content and expertise. – Share files and notes amongst your company, or even with other companies you invite. – Allows your team to work a wide range of documents including video, audio, and flash animations. – Allows your team to create cPages of your project. – A collaborative tool from Intuit, the makers of Quicken. – Specifically for groups working on business plans. – Share and work on documents, notify team members via RSS and email. – Create, access, edit, share, and collaborate on documents & projects. – Track tasks, centralize communication, share documents and files, then collaborate with clients and remote teams. – Create multiple workspaces with multiple documents, then share them for group editing. – Collaborative workspace with voice chat and numerous drawing tools. – Workspace for your group that features versioning, IM, VoIP ad more. – Focuses on working on goals, estimates, client feedback and more. – Your team can work on a project and then publish it directly to where you choose on the web. – Work on documents and more with live web meetings. – Project management that allows you to assign tasks and then let people work in teams on them. – Create documents and invite others to edit and chat while you do so. – A catch-all collaboration site for files, tech support, presentations and more. – Email service with collaboration tools. – Create documents and grant permissions for others to work on an entire page or just one portion or object.

Creative Collaboration – Site for musicians to collaborate on compositions together. – Specifically for computer program development and allows storage of code to be worked on from anywhere. – Site for group writing of fictional stories. – Collaborative writing of non-linear stories in any language.

WebBrush – Focuses more on graphical sharing and includes drawing tools. – From 37signals, perfect for collaborative writing, journalists, bloggers and more. – Designed specifically for creating and sharing sitemaps amongst web teams.

Family and Social Collaboration – Helps families organize and communicate in a web based method. – Built for families or small groups to organize and share contacts, calendars, and projects. – Uses email to start a group discussion on any subject of your choice. – Create to do lists and share them with whomever you choose. – Post your goals in life, get suggestions on how to achieve them. – Share documents, photos, to do lists and more with family and friends.

Wamily – For teams, families, clubs and everything in-between. Share photos, run a wiki, have conversations.

Mindmapping -Create and share your mind map with your team, also embed in to your website or blog. – Mind mapping for everyone from students working together to project management. – Draw & share mind mapping diagrams. – Mind mapping for individuals or organizations. – Mind mapping for one, or multiple users. – Has both free and premium accounts for mind mapping. – A mind mapping tool you can share with an unlimited number of simultaneous users.

Getting things done isn’t easy. In fact, it’s incredibly tough. In this article, we look at four ways to get through your work faster: running your life online, mastering RSS news feeds, aggregating your social networks and using keyboard shortcuts to save precious seconds.

When it comes to getting things done, the web can be a real distraction. But thanks to the many new applications springing up online, it also provides invaluable ways to keep your life in order. To start, we look at the web-based apps that can help you most.

Word Processing Services

Online word processing provides you with ways to manage and write documents without a download – great for collaboration or those using multiple computers.

Google Docs – A way to create your documents and share them too.

Zoho Writer – Serious competition to Google Docs. There are some options present that Google Docs lacks and of course vice-versa.

ThinkFree – Think Microsoft Office, except this is the online equivalent.

Buzzword – A recently discovered service that is still in private beta. It has many offerings and a slick interface to boot! (Private Beta)

Web Portals

You have the potential to be productive the moment you turn on your computer and fire up that web browser. You can have all the information you want and need accessible to you immediately by using one of the following services.

Netvibes – Generally considered to be the first successful, independent startpage.

Pageflakes – Pageflakes could be considered the brother-in-law to Netvibes and both have very similar offerings in customization and content.

iGoogle – If you have a Google account, then the iGoogle comes part of the package deal, and since many of us have Google as our home page anyways, why not give iGoogle a trial?
My Yahoo – The offerings are somewhat more customizable than iGoogle, but essentially the same concept from a different provider.

Calendar Services

Let’s say you have your parent’s anniversary, project deadlines, and finally taking the family pet to the vet all coming up this week. Having all these things on a calendar is undoubtedly the way to go for keeping track of these events. Unless you prefer writing it on your hand…

Google Calendar – I personally use Google Calendar on a daily basis. It is just that freaking awesome!
Yahoo! Calendar – Yahoo provides a pretty good, but basic, calendar application for organizing your life
30 Boxes – Has a lightning fast interface that is really easy to navigate makes this a good contender.
Kiko – A very nice calendar application with a drag & drop interface.

Contact Management Services

Your cell phone and e-mail program are likely your primary sources for keeping information about your contacts. This is fine. You must ask yourself though, what happens if your cell phone is lost, your webmail account goes down or you lose all the data on your computer? You are pretty much screwed. Time to rethink the way we do contact management.

Plaxo – One of the best known services which allow you to keep track of contacts. Other services that can tap into your Plaxo account and utilize your contacts with your permission.
Tabber – was created with the notion of linking together friends from many social sites and services, but it still serves very well as an address book and contact management application.
Highrise – A premium option to manage your business contacts. If you are more serious about keeping your contacts and have hundreds of them, this could be a cost efficient solution depending on your needs.
HyperOffice – Another premium service that offers control of your contacts. This is for more serious contact management.

Communication Services

Stickam – If live video conversations are your thing, then Stickam provides you an excellent opportunity to mingle with friends, coworkers, or just random people if you so desire. We wouldn’t use it for business calls, though.
Google 411 – This service from Google is likely something you have never tried before, but once you do, you might use it for a long time coming. A good 411 replacement. (US Only)
Meebo – If you prefer to communicate with friends and colleagues through IM, then Meebo is the site for you to do it all in one easy to use program.
Gmail – The king of e-mail? We think so. Much more efficient at handling large volumes of email than rival services.

Charting & Diagram Services

Ever heard of brainstorming? Of course you have! Well, the following applications follow the same line of thought, but now you can throw your ideas in charts and diagrams often referred to as “mind maps” to plan any future project you may attempt. I personally use these types of applications very often. – The title says it all really. Flowchart allows you to create charts and diagrams in a nice drag & drop interface. (Private Beta)
MindMeister – Offering both a free and premium version, MindMeister focuses on collaboration in an easy to use “mind mapping”environment.
Mind42 – Yet another “mind mapping” web app that allows you to collaborate with others. This one is completely free.
Gliffy – Likely the most technical and detailed option on this list. It has many more options available than the others.

Mapping Services

If you need to find out where you are going, and how to get there, these tools can help prevent (or at least reduce) the amount of times you get lost on those long road trips.

Google Maps – Recently has taken over as one of the best mapping tools out there. Not only does it have streets, but you can get an insane amount of data displayed on Google Maps through other services like StreetAdvisor.
Yahoo Maps – Google has obviously driven Yahoo to improve its mapping services, and it shows here.
Mapquest – A very reliable source for getting you from point A to point B.

File Storage Services – A very nice solution to uploading and backing up your files, as well as sharing them. You can sign up for free and get a gig of space, or you can have additional storage with the premium options.
MediaMax – Another powerful and useful service to regularly back-up all your important data.


OK, so social networking isn’t often productive, unless you’re rubbing virtual shoulders with a potential employer. But if you must use all these sites (and most people do), how about saving time by aggregating all your profiles and updates in one place? These services do just that.


Profilactic has very recently been upgraded to version 2, which brought a decent amount of new features – a new look, support for Pownce, LinkedIn, Shelfari, and the ability to add more than one account for the same site. At its core, Profilactic still does the same two things: it displays your personal lifestream, which consists of your social networking activity, and a group lifestream from your friends. What it does, it does well; however, we’d still like to see more options to interact with the items in your streams. There’s also the option to create clippings – bits and pieces of information from the web; but this option is not really connected to the rest of the features on the site.


Minggl is a browser toolbar that works with Firefox, IE and Flock and promises to “put you in control of your social web universe”. The idea behind Minggl is to “attach” social networking profiles to Minggl and then control them all from one place. You can see an overview of the main features in this video tutorial.


Another application that’s based on the concept of group lifestreaming, iStalkr perhaps chooses the most logical route of all the applications on this list. It enables you to follow your own and your friends’ social networking activities on a timeline, and to act on it directly from iStalkr’s interface. Working with iStalkr, we’ve noticed that the updates aren’t coming that fast; but we’re not sure if this is due to the limitations of various APIs involved or iStalkr itself. doesn’t really give you the ability to do much with your social networks, it merely gives you a nice overview of your activities on them. While the application is quite simple, it’s done well, and we think that it could be a good basis for a bigger project.

Instead of aggregating social networking information, lets you search all the social networks with one form. For each found user you can see tags, friends, comments, as well as the latest content this user posted. supports, among others, LiveJournal, Flickr, Twitter, Jaiku and 43Things.


Spokeo is a social network tracker which enables you to track what your friends are doing on various social networks from Spokeo’s interface. It aims to be the simplest of the aggregators, offering a kind of “RSS reader for social networks”. Our longer review of the newly launched Spokeo is here.


Create a profile with your personal information, clippings from the web and your personal social networking lifestream. Profilefly works as a widget or as a Facebook application, and it supports a huge number of social networks, including MySpace, Digg, Hi5, Facebook, Last.FM, Second Life and many others. The actual profile is a bit bland, with the lifestream – which should be the center of such an application – offering very limited options; for example, time stamps and any kind of interactivity is lacking.


PeopleAggregator aims to become a social identity hub. It works through a desktop software application which currently runs only on Linux, and although we applaud its reliance on OpenID and open standards in general, the decision to start a service that aims to connect social networking users and their profiles, on a Linux platform, seems like a suicide. The official FAQ which is at the moment a bunch of spam links doesn’t help. Look at the presentation of the service in HTML form here.


SocialURL helps you organize your online identity and get back in touch with all of your friends and classmates. It’s a unified profile with support for photo galleries and videos, as well as a central portal with links pointing out to all your other social network profiles. It’s all spiced up with lots of additional features, like on-site email, reminders and bookmarks.


We’ve already said quite a lot about Social Stream considering that it’s not even in beta stage yet – all that’s available at this point is a vidcast presentation of what Social Stream can do. However, the huge amount of attention that Social Stream got is a clear indicator that some pieces of the puzzle are still missing in the social network aggregator space.


Tabber is a personal profile page, which displays some information about you together with your latest activity on Digg,, your blog, Twitter, or any RSS feed. It’s very similar in concept to ProfileFly, and just like it, it lacks any possibility to interact with your lifestream.


Naymz is another personal profile site, which goes a step further than services like Tabber or ProfileFly by giving you the possibility to actively monitor certain sites for mention of your name. Naymz also actively promotes your profile by trying to make it more visible on Google.


In contrast to the majority of the other services described here, 8hands is a desktop application which currently works on Windows XP and Vista. It allows you to access your profiles on social networks (currently supported are Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and many more) from a single IM-like interface. The idea is to have an overview of what’s happening on your social networks, and send instant messages to other users. 8hands software is currently in alpha (I guess we’re lucky alpha is the first letter of Greek alphabet, otherwise we’d have even more unstable software dubbed with a name that signifies even earlier stages of development), so expect some instability.

Second Brain

Second Brain takes a radically different approach to aggregation than other apps on this list. You organize your data – this includes data from your social network profiles, like Flickr photos or YouTube videos – into collections. A collection is basically a bunch of links, photos, or other bits and pieces of data thrown onto a dashboard; you can create your own collections or explore what others have collected. While the concept seems powerful, I’ve found myself trying to find something to do with it all. In any case, Second Brain is currently in invite-only beta stage and there will probably be some changes in the service until it goes public.


UpScoop lets you upload the contacts from your address book (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail and AOL are supported) and it lets you discover which of your friends are active on social networks like Hi5, MySpace and others. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing UpScoop didn’t work with my perfectly valid Gmail address, so I couldn’t properly test it out. Hopefully, it’s just a temporary glitch.


ProfileOMat advertises itself as the last profile we’ll ever need – if only things were that simple! ProfileOMat doesn’t really aggregate your social networking profiles; it merely creates a profile from which you can reach all of your other profiles on social network. It does have a couple of nifty features, for example, you can set up your geographical location with the help of Google Maps.


MyLifeBrand tries to go a step further by really integrating various social network sites within a MyLifeBrand frame. While this approach brings a far more streamlined experience, it’s unlikely that social network users will want to open their favorite website within some other website; also, there’s always the possibility of unexpected errors with this approach. At this time MyLifeBrand is in invite-only beta, so if you don’t have an invitation code, you won’t be able to try it out.


Amongst the rounded corners and reflections that have become the usual visual identity for Web 2.0 ProfileLinker stands out by looking very Web 1.0-ish. After registration, you can add your various social network profiles and your contacts, and all this activity will be shown on your ProfileLinker profile. The look and feel of the interface leaves a lot to be desired; for one thing, I’d like to be able to remove random information about ProfileLinker’s history that shows up on my profile; in general, the options for personalization are quite limited.


Snag takes a no-nonsense approach: no registration required; just enter some of your social network credentials (Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and LinkedIn are supported) and you get a group lifestream of your activity on these networks. The application needs much polishing, though; for example, entering the wrong credentials won’t result in an error; instead, your lifestream will consist of login errors retrieved from that particular network. At this point, Snag looks more like proof-of-concept than a full-fledged app.

Besides aggregating your social network profiles, spices things up with ratings. Perhaps I’m just unlucky, but testing the service resulted in numerous errors which pretty much prevented me to do any serious analysis. To see some basic features check out the screencast here.


OK, a free bonus for the 21st: Mashable also aggregates your social networking links in one place, with video, photo sharing, Flickr import and other features. It’s worth disclosing at least.

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