The other day I shared a mind map I was working on with my colleague Jim Loter. I had authored the mind map using Nova Mind, a nice piece of software that I’ve used for several years on my Macs. Jim’s a Windows user. There is a Windows version of NovaMind, but Jim turned around and recreated the mind map using MindMeister, a new Web-based collaborative mind-mapping tool that works in the browser. Jim and I are now happily working together on iterating the mind map for a project we’re working on. While MindMeister doesn’t have all the rich functionality of NovaMind, it’s plenty good enough for my rather basic uses, and the ability to work within the browser from any computer I happen to be at and to collaborate easily with my colleagues makes it even better than a desktop program.
So that experience got me thinking about all the work I actually do in the Internet cloud these days. Over the last month or two I’ve been working out of two different office locations at the UW, and I’m finding it much easier to just use the various cloud computing services, like Google Docs and Calendar, Remember The Milk (to-do lists), and now MindMeister for a set of activities where I would previously have used heavyweight desktop applications like Word or Apple’s Pages. I’ve already written about how my blog is now hosted in the cloud. And at this point I’d say that most of my professional collaborative contacts take place in the cloud, through Twitter, Facebook, Skype, or the IM services.
It’s a new computing world out there. Those of us in IT support roles had better get used to it.