Thing 9: Google Tools - Online Productivity

The finish line is in sight. You're almost there. You should be proud of yourself!

This week's Thing involves an essential part of most people's online lives... yes, we're talking about the almighty Google. Chances are you (like everyone else on the planet) have used Google to search the web. Did you know that Google also offers an impressive array of web-based productivity tools that go way beyond simple searching?

One reason Google is able to come up with so many innovations is because Google engineers are asked to spend 20% of their work time (1 day per week) to work on pet projects that interest them. Google essentially requires their employees to "think outside the box" in order to continually come up with great new stuff. Imagine if every library did that!

One of these productivity tools is Google Docs, a tool for creating text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Even if you swear by Microsoft Office, Google Docs provide some extra features that are definitely worth checking out. For more on that, we'll let the Common Craft people do what they do so well once again:


Take a look at Google's products. Try stuff out and have fun! If you don't know where to start, focus on the tools listed under the "Communicate, show & share" category.

Also, take a look at Lifehacker, "a blog that covers tips and tricks for streamlining your life with computers (and sometimes without)." Updated several times daily, Lifehacker points out software downloads, web sites, do-it-yourself projects, how-to's, tutorials, shortcuts and tips for going beyond the default settings and getting things done in the most clever, unexpected and efficient ways. Think of Lifehacker as self-help for geeks." This is definitely one that you'll want to subscribe to!


  1. Let's take a closer look at Google Docs. Log in with your Google username and password and try creating a document. How does this compare to a software-based word processor, like Microsoft Word?

  2. Write a blog entry about your thoughts on the Google tools you looked at. Is there one that really stood out to you as being useful?

Check out Google's amazing SMS product, which offers many of Google's search tools via cell phone text messaging. Try it with your cell phone if you have one. If not, try using the interactive demo right on that page.

Now try Thing 10: The Virtual Library Branch.

No comments: