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[Slashdot] - Social Movements Are Pushing Google Sheets To the Breaking Point

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In the past decade, Google's suite of collaborative tools has steadily gained prominence in social movements and other forms of widespread collaboration. From a report: It was used to organize Occupy Wall Street movements in 2011, disseminate resources for protesting after the U.S. election in 2016, and assemble response to the California wildfires in 2017. During 2020, these tools have earned a reputation as "the social media of the resistance;" they have played a key role in the formation of pandemic mutual aid groups, the organization of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the aggregation of allegations in the gaming industry's #MeToo reckoning. But when these resources go viral, they often encounter limitations of G Suite. "Whenever you loaded the page, it would just fail half the time," says Edward Saperia, who initially used Google Docs to build Coronavirus Tech Handbook, a crowdsourced directory of tools, services, and resources for Covid-19 response. The proliferation of viral Google Sheets and Google Docs that break is a sign that collaboration has outgrown the collaboration tools at our immediate disposal. As the demographic of organizers and contributors has broadened and the scale of these projects has exploded, tools everyday citizens can use to spearhead these efforts have yet to catch up. Google Docs and Google Sheets were first built more than a decade ago to allow individuals to "get feedback and contributions from others [â¦] without having to email around copies of files." They were designed to facilitate the kind of collaboration we might reasonably attempt via email -- not widespread resources and movements. A Google support page states that "up to 100 people with view, edit, or comment permissions can work on a Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides file at the same time" and has a section devoted to troubleshooting files that become unresponsive after being shared with many people, recognizing the common pitfall.

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Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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