The case for collaborative tools

This article from the December 2008 edition of AALL Spectrum looks at how Web-based collaborative tools could be used by Law Librarians.

In it the authors report on how they were asked to speak at the 2008 AALL meeting in Portland and needed to use collaborative tools to prepare their talk, from there they carried out a survey to find out if anyone was currently using collaborative tools within their organisations. The results are very interesting as are as are some of the issues discussed in the article.

I especially enjoyed reading about "some of the things to considers before used Web-based collaboration tools" some of which include:

  • That the project is suitable for long-distance collaboration
  • That the collaborative tools chosen are appropriate
  • That the project does not pose a cost issue for anyone collaborating


Some other highlights from the article, including perhaps the best reason to consider collaborative tools:

"If used properly, the use of collaborative tools can decrease the cost of daily operations...the number of emails piling up in one's inbox could be drastically reduce with short chats over a chat client or posting on a blog or wiki" and if you have a strong environmental policy "...institutions can still promote an enviromentally-friendly message by reducing the amount of paper waster and pollution associated with unnecessary transportation" all very good reasons to use collaborative tools in my mind.

But what about some of the issues associated with using collaborative tools? These are also addressed in the article "it is (especially) important to consider the level of computer literacy of all collaborators and the collaborators levels of comfort when using these tools" there is also the argument that "web-based communication" is very different from face-to-face contact and this is discussed in some detail in the article, with many of the respondents to the authors original survey indicating that they did miss human contact.

So can we forget about ever speaking to another human being ever again, in favour of using these tools? Well...no

"while collaborative tools provide a venue for long-distance communication, there isn't a tool in the market now that could absolutely replace face-to-face interaction"