Create virtual work spaces with Google Shared Spaces
The search giant's new Shared Spaces tool borrows technology from Google Wave to let users customize online work spaces that they can share and collaborate on with other people.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
A new tool from Google Labs promises to help users quickly collaborate with other people through the same online calendars, maps, games, and other virtual work spaces that they create.
Google's new Shared Spaces tool, rolled out yesterday, offers a collection of 50 different gadgets formerly developed for the late Google Wave. By generating a work space using one of the gadgets, a user can create lists, design polls, brainstorm ideas, and even play Sudoku when in need of a break. A user can then share and collaborate in each work space with another person.
To create a work space, a user simply browses to the Shared Spaces page and chooses one of the many gadgets, such as the Carpool Gadget, which enables people to collaborate on the times and locations for a carpool. Next, a user clicks on the option to Create a Space. The first time out they'll be prompted to log in using their account from Google, Yahoo, or Twitter.
Users can then customize their work space by selecting various options. When finished, they can share their creation with another person via e-mail, Google Wave, or Twitter. That person can then modify any of the options in the work space, as they view it separately or together. Users can also chat with each other as they collectively update the work space.
Shared Spaces sounds like a cool idea, so I decided to try out the service today. As a big Sudoku buff, I especially enjoyed playing Sudoku online with another person. But I did find several bugs and quirks in the tool.
It doesn't seem to work in Internet Explorer. When I tried to create a space in IE 8, I got no response. I was, however, able to create spaces in Firefox and Chrome. When I initially tried to sign in, Shared Spaces wouldn't grant me access using my Google account or my Yahoo account, continually dumping me back to the sign-in screen. I was able to sign only by using my Twitter account. Also, some gadgets didn't display or update properly. I contacted Google about these glitches. A company representative responded by e-mail, saying she doesn't have further details about Shares Spaces. I then asked whether another person could get back to me to respond to the bugs I found, but I haven't heard back.
Since Shared Spaces is a fresh Google Labs project, some bugs here and there are to be expected. If Google can fix some of the many rough edges, the tool may find a niche beyond just an interesting experiment and hopefully have a bit more staying power than Google Wave.