Kipp McMichael kimcmich@hotmail.com
Sat, 18 Jan 2014 10:26:40 PST
I have a computer database with my plant info, but I semi-annually print it out, laminate it and leave it in my greenhouse just in case my house is destroyed. I understand the value of a physical artifact.  I am presenting the value of an online collaborative document for those who, quite clearly from the kinds of the objections they raise,  don't understand the options available.
An online document will require a person or persons to attend to it - it will not manage itself. The work will be much less than would be required to keep a single canonical non-online document up to date with all the contributions, updates and corrections people will need to make. It will also be work that can be more easily shared rather than being the single labor of one person who holds the "official" copy.
As I mentioned before, the online document can be downloaded into a non-online file as often as anyone wants for safe-keeping (or for printing-out and laminating!). The downloaded file can be in excel format.
As I also mentioned before: Google drive retains the revision history of documents. That means you can return to prior versions of the document. It isn't in fact possible for the document to be irretrievably corrupted. Even if google lost the data entirely, we could always restore it from a previously downloaded archival copies (even if it had to be re-entered from a printed/laminated version ;-)
I suggested a broadly open database initially. Such a document can later be "closed except to invitees" if we experience vandalism or other problems. We can also further limit only certain people editing roles if we need even more control.
No matter what we kinds of access we decide, people can view, download and keep as many archival copies as they wish whenever they want.
This really is a good system.


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