I’m wearing my technology reporter hat again. About two months ago, I decided to switch to doing all my writing on Adobe Buzzword, which is an online word processor. The primary reason is that I was driving myself crazy e-mailing different versions of various articles and stories to myself and to other people. To work on news articles for my day job at home, I had to remember to e-mail those files to myself, which are usually in Microsoft’s .doc format. Once home, I edited them using my Mac’s word processing program, called Pages, and then had to export them back to .doc and e-mail them back to myself at work. Since our IT guy at Technology Review recently upgraded me to Word 2007, that added even more compatibility issues, as I have to remember to convert files from Word 2007’s .docx format to the .doc format that other co-workers can read. I think this is a pretty typical story these days.
However, why Buzzword, and not one of the many other online applications such as Google Docs or IBM Lotus Symphony? I’ve got to say it’s for a superficial reason. Buzzword looks cool. Its default font, Minion Pro, which maps to Times New Roman when you export it to Word, is really, really pretty. Plus, I have hope that Adobe will soon build a version of Buzzword that works with its new AIR technology. If they do this, it will mean the best of both worlds for Buzzword — an application with the advantages of a word processor that runs online, but that also has the capability of running offline when needed.
Buzzword’s got other nice features that I won’t get into too much here — for example, it keeps track of versions as you save, so you can easily revert back to a past version of what you’re working on if you get off track. It’s also great to share what I’m working on with friends and family with the click of a button.
The unexpected consequence, though, that’s made me most happy with my decision to switch, is that I like having all my writing in one place. I’m usually on the razor edge of work-life balance. As you can see, I’m up at midnight writing a post that fits right into my workday. During the workday, I’m constantly bookmarking things that I want to look at when I get home. I’ve spent many years keeping my fiction-writing self and my nonfiction-writing self separate, to my detriment. There is something great about opening up Buzzword and seeing my short-story-in-progress about people who speak Klingon sitting there next to my in-progress article on a new microblogging service. I no longer feel like I left some of my soul at home.