Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Using Flowgram

ReadWriteWeb had a nice overview post on "Slideshows 2.0". As I commented I was hoping they would also mention something about 'slideshare for the enterprise'. But this doesn't seem to exist...

However, Flowgram contacted me following my comment and we had a nice chat about my 'needs'. I'm really curious who will be the first to offer an enterprise 2.0 version of Slideshare!

Anyway, I didn't know Flowgram before and was invited to try it. Here's what I think of this webapp.

First of all, the user-interface is great and very intuitive! I didn't have a problem sorting things out and finding how I could get something done. It just works!

So, I just went on and made my first flowgram. (I didn't make it public yet, because it contain some stuff I don't want to share just yet.) The nice thing is Flowgram allows you to make a presentation consisting of all kinds of files (Office, links, RSS feeds, pictures, etc.). You simply select the file, it's uploaded for you, then you can reshuffle the deck, add audio to the presentation and you're all set. You can then share the Flowgram as-is, or in Youtube. The way they integrated all this and kept the whole process (from creation to distribution) is really great.

This is wonderful stuff for trainers. However, I was thinking how I could use it for my work. I tell you what I think later on.

First, some remarks about the features:

- You can add a note to a webpage. It would be nice if you could fix it to part of webpage. And you can't add a note to documents.

- It would be nice if you could add arrow(s) and circles to pictures and parts of documents/webpages.

- Importing a Word-doc went well, but it was presented in a way to small font. For pdf I had the same issue. When you're on that part of the presentation you can zoom in (Flash zoom), but this not saved.

- It would be very nice if you could uploads types of content and then download those types again (unpackage). Why this could be neat is explained below.

- Adding email to a Flowgram would be nice. Of course you can copy-paste an email, but to make things easy 'eml' import or allow 'forward to flowgram' could be added too.

- Youtube now has a feature to embed parts of the video's. Wouldn't it be nice if we could embed (parts of) a Youtube video in a Flowgram?

What I like about this tool is the fact that you can bundle different types of content (- keep things in context!). This is extremely important for knowledge workers and hardly supported by tools. That's one of the reasons we still work with paper... (More info on this topic can be found here and here.) For instance, when we're researching a topic we usually work with a combination of emails, Word and Powerpoint docs, webpages, etc. Using Flowgram, this can be done in one place.

However, for this to be useful, a user would also have to be able to unpackage a Flowgram to get the different files back in their original format.

Anyway, I'm going to keep trying Flowgram and see where this goes. Flowgram emailed me they're working hard on new features, also some of the ones I requested for.

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