Tuesday, June 6

Google now has a Spreadsheet. Hmmmm....

As anyone with a browser probably already knows, Google has a spreadsheet. From all reports, it is another AJAX tool, like their maps. I haven't played with the tool (hopefully yet), but I have signed up to play.

The benefits seem clear; write a spreadsheet and anyone you think should be able to edit the document, can edit the document. What's more, every time anyone updates figures, everyone on that sheet's access list would have live access to the most recent "version" of the document. No more multiple-versions of the same sheet, and no more losing figures because edits were made to old versions. I agree, email attachments are not very convenient.

However, would I use this tool for most jobs? Definitely NOT. Why?

Spreadsheets usually contain information that most companies, individuals and organizations would like to remain private. In today's world, in addition to normal competitive pressures, we have to keep in mind fiduciary responsiblities and requirements under laws such as HIPAA. While I may be able to create a list of authorized individuals to access my spreadsheets, I am unable to ensure that the owner of the system, Google, wouldn't have the ability to access the document. In addition, I have no way of knowing just how secure Google's servers really are.

Google has created what looks like a valuable and powerful tool. However, unless there can be some firm guarantees of data security and privacy it is just an academic exercise.

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