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June 13, 2008

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It's email where I am, and I once suggested to our journal club(all smart scientists) that that instead of emailing PDFs around, we could just throw it up on google docs. I got blank stares all around the room. Likewise when I suggested that instead of typing up the lab protocols in a Word document and giving out copies, we could put it on a wiki. I think many of these people are just now getting comfortable with email and word processor software, and are reluctant to drop all that for something new, even if it's not, really.

Even when I was at a start-up in San Diego and needed to collaboratively edit a spreadsheet with someone at another university, the burden of signing up for an account, light as it is, was too much.

Email it is, and email it will remain, until literally forced to change.

In a way, with web-based mail and chat, the browser (with tabs) helps aggregate these into a single point of focus ... but it would be nicer if they integrated further so that it didn't feel like there was as much "attention switching".

Like Mr. Gunn, I've got to shamefully admit that I've tried and failed to convert those who exclusively use email. And lets not even start on attempting to get anyone to edit the lab wiki. I'm expecting that they will come around without any prodding when there is a critical mass of their peers using IM and web based communication and sharing (which is a little bit of a circular argument).

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