A series of BBC News Magazine articles on the office as workplace: (i) How the office was invented; (ii) The ancient Chinese exam that inspired modern job recruitment (previously); (iii) The invention of the career ladder; (iv) The arrival of women in the office; (v) Do we still need the telephone?; (vi) Are there too many managers?; (vii) The era of the sexually charged office; (viii) The decline of privacy in open-plan offices; (ix) How the computer changed the office forever and (x) Why did offices become like the home?—by columnist Lucy Kellaway. [more inside]
Has Microsoft Word affected the way we work? "Consider first the name that the computer industry assigned to it: word processor. The obvious analogy is with the food processor, a motorised culinary device that reduces everything to undifferentiated mush."
Matthew Kirschenbaum, an English professor at the University of Maryland, is exploring the literary history of word processing. In a lecture at the New York Public Library entitled Stephen King's Wang, Kirschenbaum asks "When did literary writers begin using word processors? Who were the early adopters? How did the technology change their relation to their craft? Was the computer just a better typewriter, or was it something more?"
Almost Perfect (1994) is an account of "the rise and fall of WordPerfect Corporation" from the point of view of former executive vice-president W. E. (Pete) Peterson. [via reddit].
dlog is a new document visualization system that attempts to show writing not as a static document but a progression of frames over time. I find the suspense of the process mesmerising/delightful. I'm surprised it hasn't been trashed.
Google's word processor (re)launches. Formerly known as Writely, the online application, with all kinds of nifty collaborative features, joins a wide range of free online word processors, including the decent Zoho (you can see reviews of many online word processors here). Want to do presentations instead? Check out Thumbstacks or ThinkFree (with 1 GB of storage). If drawing is your thing, try Litha-Paint, or use SnipShot to crop pictures and save them to Flickr or your computer. Even GE's gotten into the free web application act with their no-registration-required collaborative whiteboard. And the number of free web applications just keeps growing...