Socialwok: Project Management for Google Apps

The concept behind Socialwok is a good one: leverage the power of the Google Apps mail, documents, calendar and instant messaging functions to let companies and organizations create interactive discussion timelines.

Socialwok builds on the infrastructure of Google Apps to provide document and calendar sharing and storage, as well as real-time notifications via Google Talk instant messaging. Note, however, that your organization doesn’t need to use Google Apps to take advantage of Socialwok.

Socialwok’s web interface lets you create one or more timelines of news, links and comments that look a lot like Facebook or Friendfeed. From these timelines, one can send private messages. Updates can also be imported from Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, blogs and custom URLs. Feeds can be designated any way you like, and each feed can be set to be available only to people within your organization, or clients can be invited to participate in a specific feed.

There’s also a nicely laid-out mobile version of the Socialwok interface.

Socialwok is an early offering of the Google Apps Marketplace: third-party add-ons that integrate with Google Apps. In theory, this should make installation a snap — Google Apps administrators can just visit the Marketplace page for Socialwok, click “Add it now,” and follow the prompts. In practice, setting up the service is not as simple as one might like. Once Socialwok is installed into Google Apps, the administrator must invite her co-workers to join the group, and each member must accept the invitation. After that, everyone must “follow” each other. To get notifications via Google Talk, one needs to accept a friend request from the Socialwok app.

For those who want to display Socialwok within Gmail, there are a couple more steps. Each user has to enable the “Add any gadget by URL” option in Labs, then paste the URL of the Socialwok gadget into Gmail settings. I found the gadget useful, but there is a delay of several seconds every time one moves from Google Apps to Socialwok, so I ended up keeping both screens open in separate tabs.

Socialwok’s help function explains how to set up and use the service pretty well. But at the moment, Socialwok is not seamless enough for me. The steps needed to set up each member of a group may be more than many administrators care to take on. However, if you and your colleagues spend all day in the Google Apps web interface, give Socialwok a whirl. It’s free, and definitely has potential.

Have you used Socialwok?

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