in User Interface

JotSpot reborn as Google’s version of BaseCamp

JotSpot used to be my favorite Wiki tool and I was so sad to see it vanish after being acquired by Google. Today, at long last, JotSpot is back in the form of Google Sites. Weirdly, the only way you can sign up to use it (for now), is if you have a Google Apps account – which I think is something primarily used by small businesses. Not sure why Google would assume that individuals would not be just as interested in this tool – for the same reason that BaseCamp is used both by teams and individuals. Well, no matter, I happen to have a Google Apps account and started playing around with the app – and I have to say, I wasn’t very impressed. Sure, it’s still in ‘Beta’ – but Google has sort of shot themselves in the foot with their liberal use of that term (with Gmail still in Beta, Google has basically rendered the term meaningless) – so because it’s meaningless, people ignore that supposed message that things may not be quite working as expected, and expect everything to work just right. The whole experience still feels a bit clunky, at least by Google standards – for example, I created a new page, assuming it would then show up in my list of pages in the sidebar – but for some mysterious reason, I have to go into the settings for that page and choose to have it display in my page list – makes no sense. Considering that this app is integrated with the apps suite, it’s also not clear to me what the relationship is between the various dashboards you can create as part of this app and the dashboard that is part of the Google Apps suite – to be clear, this is not the same as the iGoogle dashboard. In fact, it seems like Google in general is having a bit of an IA problem – lots of apps all sort of interconnected but no overall semblance of order.

Anyway, bottom line is that Google Sites will probably be a worthwhile Wiki, Team Tool, whatever, eventually, but for now, it’s still a bit rough around the edges.