Working at a college with a sustainability goal provides a boost whenever you want to move something from paper to the Web. So it was pleasing this week to move a paper-pushing tree-killing task to collaborative online report instead.
One of our office’s more drudgery duties involves a clippings report, where we document our college’s media mentions for the previous week. Traditionally, we put everything into an Excel document, printed said document, typed and printed a two-page cover report, printed the more noteworthy clippings and made enough copies to wipe out a small forest.
While I was vaguely aware of Google documents, I didn’t see the potential until Brad J. Ward created an online spreadsheet for FacebookGate that several of us Web detectives worked on. Under our office’s old clips system, only one Excel user could input into the document at a time. Three of us enter items in the document, and on super-busy Mondays, two of us would be locked out if any user were in it. Now any of us can be in the document entering things in real time. As the Google doc is online, I could even enter clippings I find on the Web from home if I want. (As to why I would want to … that’s a whole nuther entry.)
I wasn’t sure what to expect when proposing the new green format. I e-mailed a briefer version of the summary report, links to more significant clippings and a link to the clippings document. Response was swift and very positive. In a field like higher education where change sometimes takes a glacial pace, a warm welcome for an abrupt shift from reams of paper to online is still surprising.
But I’m happy to have tried something new and have it accepted … and that it saves our time and many trees.