Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Using for collaborative notetaking

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been attending a lot of meetups. (If you follow me on Twitter, I’m sorry for the occasional flood.) First there was Data-Based News – The Role of Data and Metadata in News Gathering and Management, a joint meetup between Hacks/Hackers and New York Semantic Web. It was here that Daniel Bachhuber introduced us to More on that later.

Next was the open(source).athon, another Hacks/Hackers event. This week, I went to the TimesOpen 2.0 Open Government event, and next week I’m going to the New York Data Visualization and Infographics group meetup and yet another Hacks/Hackers event, an Info Session on the Knight News Challenge: Millions in Funding for News Projects. Yes, I’ve become a bit of a meetup whore.

At these events, a good number of people whip out laptops, netbooks, iWhatevers, open up Twitter, and set to livestreaming the discussion. It’s really cool, and really interesting to look at later (but not too much later, because Twitter’s search doesn’t archive more than 7 days). Each person is tweeting the items that stand out most to her/him, and usually there are enough people in attendance that the whole event ends up on Twitter.

This is very cool for the people who are at the event, who have a backchannel and a place to promote the event. But it can get really annoying for people who follow those people on Twitter.

I first found in June, but didn’t really have any applications for it at the time. Summer is a slow meetup season. At the Data-Based News meetup, Daniel Bacchuber and Greg Linch started taking copious notes using, tweeting out the link for others to see. is basically a stripped down Google Docs that actually works in real-time. There is a sidebar where people can chat. Anyone can edit the document without any kind of account. Access to the link = access to edit. It even keeps revision histories. And it is, like Twitter, a great way to have a backchannel and take notes on what’s important to you, without flooding your followers.

I’m not suggesting that we stop using Twitter entirely during these events. After all, someone has to tweet out that link. :)

Some examples:

Data-Based News – The Role of Data and Metadata in News Gathering and Management – Daniel Bachhuber and Greg Linch’s initial experiment

open(source).athon – My own experiment

TimesOpen 2.0 Open Government – Me, again