Well, it took a lot of effort this morning, but I’m finally taking a look at Google Sites, which is rising from the ashes of the Jotspot wiki acquisition by Google last year.
I almost bailed on the process before I even started. I couldn’t use my existing Google account to log in. Seems that in order to try out Google Sites I needed to enter an email address of a work or school domain. Huh?
Upon further examination, it looked like I was actually signing up for Google Apps and not just Google Sites. Double huh?
I reread the Google Sites page and realized that Google has bundled Sites with Google Apps. If you want Sites, you need to have an Apps account. I couldn’t find any way to tie Google Sites to my existing single Google account.
So, if my first impression is correct, it doesn’t look like creating a wiki is going to be easy for your average user. I suspect individual users aren’t even on the radar for Google with respect to Sites. By bundling it with Google Apps, Google has sent a clear signal that they are targeting organizational IT departments moreso than individual users.
That’s not a bad thing. But don’t expect Google Sites to compete with PBWiki, Wetpaint or Wikispaces in the “hey I can get a wiki up and running in 5 minutes” department. It appears that’s not the purpose. It looks like Google Sites has become one little piece of a bigger puzzle for Google as they take aim at domain wide collaborative applications like SharePoint.
I did plunge in and sign up for a Google Apps account. I control a domain name so I used an email address from that domain to sign up and have now spent the better part of the morning getting distracted by Google Apps (and getting WAAAAAAY more functionality and services than I wanted). But for many of the people I am trying to convince to use wiki’s as a learning and teaching tool, this won’t be the first one out of my mouth.