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Are You a Word Track Changes or Google Docs Person?
June 30, 2011 - 8:15pm

The world is divided into two types of people: those who prefer Track Changes in Word and those who prefer to write collaboratively in Google Docs. Which one are you?

I'm firmly in the Google Docs camp. This presents some challenges, as I work in a diverse writing team - with some of us more comfortable in the Word and Track Changes world, and others of us letting it all hang out in Google Docs.

Track Changes actually sort of drives me crazy. I always end up accepting all the changes. If you made any changes, or updates, deletions, editions, or re-writes - I assume that they are for the better. In fact, I assume that anything you do to the original document will improve the final product. Go ahead, re-write the whole thing. I like my documents in a constant state of evolution, as perpetual living documents, a goal made possible by having the files live in the Google Doc cloud.

Most of what we write has a short shelf life anyway. We will learn new things, make mistakes, change how we do things - and then need to rewrite all of our document anyway. We will re-write our training documents, our policy documents, our descriptive documents, and our planning documents. Spending too much time getting the words exactly right doesn't strike me as a particularly good use of time in our fast changing digital world.

But maybe I'm wrong. Some very smart people that I work with swear by Track Changes. They argue that the commenting, editing and rewriting tools in Track Changes is a form of conversation. Rewriting without making the rewrites visible is a lost opportunity for dialogue and shared understanding. Our brains have a hard time keeping two different ideas in mind simultaneously, therefore we cannot remember or think about the difference between our ideas and a collaborator unless we can see them on one page. Collaborative writing in Word with Track Changes might take a bit longer, but the results are almost always superior if everyone takes the time to absorb and think about the proposed changes (and does not blindly hit "Accept All")

What side are you on?


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