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Bookgoo: Strange Name for a Useful Collaboration Tool

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bookgoo - Highlight the WorldIn the world of branding, Web 2.0 companies are clamoring for name originality. Bookgoo is out there in terms of weird names but in terms of applications for collaboration, their technology rocks. The company set out to “empower users to collaborate more effectively.” And you, dear Web worker, get the benefits of their hard work.

Through Bookgoo, you can upload a document (pdf, html, doc, xls, jpg, gif) or URL and opt to make it either private or public. At first, I was envisioning another Scribd. Then I thought it sounded a bit like Backboard, a feedback site I recently reviewed here. But that is where the functionality diverges from both of those sites into a nifty annotating tool for marking up documents in a way that makes Google Docs look a little plain vanilla and some of the online whiteboard apps available seem a bit old school.

bookgoo - Small Biz Tools docBookgoo actually makes marking up a document fun. Upload your document, invite others to view it and provide their input, and then watch the annotating begin.

On Bookgoo, you get your dashboard view of your document activity on you “Goo Gate” where you can: 1) Add notes to the document by highlighting particular text and typing in related notes; 2) Draw on the document; or 3) Change the pen color when you draw.

The annotations you make lay over the document, but do not change it. Even when you highlight text by clicking and holding your cursor then dragging it over text, the text is not actually modified but the highlighted words contain the related comments.

Because Bookgoo doesn’t change the document, the tool works well for commenting on and pointing to changes that should be made. Then someone can download the original document from the site – without the annotations – and implement the modifications from viewing the modifications online.

Other things you can do with your Bookgoo include:

1. Subscribing to a document RSS feed. Get notified each time someone modifies your document.

2. Emailing documents to a friend. You can allow others to access the modified document directly from the document page. This feature, however, brought up the question of privacy for me. Currently, Bookgoo does not offer different levels of privacy features and even their “private” mode is not very private and definitely not secure. Of course, if you have very sensitive documents, uploading them to the Internet at all is a risk.

3. Adding a document to your MyGoo page. If you upload a document, it is automatically archived on and accessible from your MyGoo page. However, if you are invited to annotate someone else’s document, you can also add that to MyGoo for easy access.

4. Sharing a document with a group. You can create groups and must do this first before adding a document to the group.

5. Adding the document to your social networks and other sites. The presence of an AddThis button brought me back to my questions about privacy. At this time, even if you opt to make your document private, once you share that URL with others, they have the ability to share your document broadly. The company calls their privacy option “pseudo privacy” for this very reason. Therefore you need to trust those to whom you give access or keep really private documents in much more secure environments.

bookgoo - Small Biz Tools-bottomSome of the downsides or limitations of Bookgoo:

1. Lack of more robust privacy features. Bookgoo plans to release role-based permissions soon.

2. Inability to use word documents newer than Microsoft Word 2003. Support for newer docs is pending.

3. Difficulty sifting through larger documents for annotations. Another upcoming feature will be “page inspection” for large, multi-page documents so you can inspect 10 pages at a time to locate annotations deep within a document.

4. Still somewhat buggy. While doing the first demo with the company, I uncovered several bugs that rendered some of the key features inoperable. The Bookgoo tech team rectified those problems so that everything seemed to work well during the second demo. But you may end up finding a few more bugs here and there.

The folks at Bookgoo don’t anticipate ever charging for any level of their application and see their business model as more a software licensing venture as well as experimenting with Ad Sense. They simply want to offer Bookgoo free to the general online community.

Gotta love their spirit!

How do you annotate documents collaboratively online?