May 24, 2013

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Writing In The Browser

I like to think of myself as a pretty modern guy. I buy all the right gadgets, use all the cool services, and get all worked up when the TOS shows the internet companies’ true intent. I’m also a writer, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, there are a literally a billion possible tools for us writers to choose from. On the iPad alone there are approximately 747,632 apps that could make you a better writer, which is why I went through all of them and wrote The Writer’s iPad. Yeah, I’m such a nice guy.

I’ve got a friend who swears by Google Docs, err, Drive, or whatever it’s called these days. I use it on occasion, to share content with other people, but I’ve never liked it, and lost way too many words due to it being an unstable piece of shit. Maybe it isn’t anymore, but I’m really not interested in finding out. 

Google Docs makes me want to cry, but whatever works for you

I’ve gotten a bunch of invites to online writing apps. Collaborate this, publish to your Dropbox folder like that, and everything is distraction free so you’ll be super productive, mate!

Except I’m not, because I’m sitting there worrying that web browsers will do what web browsers do best. Which is to crash and burn and just plain suck.

There are so many great things us writer types could do online, through these services. J.A. Konrath, and many more with him I’d wager, has co-written novels in Google Docs, so apparently it didn’t suck for him. Others use communities or rely on hip HMTL5 apps to get their collaborative writing on, right there in the unreliable web browser. It can’t be all bad, because these people aren’t raving on their blogs about it, like I am.

There’s room for writing in the browser, there’s even a demand.

Maybe it’s because I’m so darn old. I remember a time when your internet connection was a fickle thing, when timeouts meant that everything you’d done in the CMS were gone, and when you pressed the Save button every twelve seconds for fear of everything imploding into gibberish. It’s not like that anymore, things are cached and autosaved, and there are revisions and whatnot.

I know this, I even know this well, because I build stuff like this when I’m not wearing my writer’s hat (which I picked up in Japan and it’s totally rad).

Still, here I am, typing away on my keyboard designed for tablets, in a local app (that syncs my words) on my iPad. I’m online, I could just as well be doing this in a web browser, but I just won’t.

Maybe I’m just a cranky old man scared of technology.

Now if you excuse me, I have to clear away the iPads, Nexues, iPhones, Macs, Kindles and miscellaneous gadgetry from the kitchen table. There’s coffee to be had in the morning, and I’d rather not spill it on my proof of being A Modern Man.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.