DocuViz is a visualization of the revision history in Google Docs. Colors represent people, the size of the block represents the amount and placement of their contributions, with major additions noted by the opening whitespaces, and deletions as closing whitespaes. One can also detect whether the edits of a particular section were done by the original author (in black) or another author (like the green entries in the blue section. We have analyzed over 100 documents looking for new patterns of collaborative writing. Of interest are the sessions where several people are typing at the same time. We expected these sessions to have people filling in various separate sections. While they do exhibit that pattern, they also show sessions where they are all on top of each other, working out the wording or set of ideas.
In addition, now that we can write simultaneously, we are looking at the new ways of working because of that ability. For example, some people have written software documentation by bringing the key experts into a room, providing them with an outline, and having them all “bang on” the document for an extended set of time. While the document at that point is not coherent, it is often complete enough for a technical editor to clean it up to make a good document, enough for other developers to read and understand in order to use or modify the software. We are collecting examples like this of the new ways of getting things done–where meetings involve getting the work done, not just talking about it.