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Collaborative software

Humans love to create, whether we're cooking a big meal, painting a mural, building a house, or programming an app. Collaborative software enables us to create things together online.
Groups of people can plan what they'll create using project management software, share project files with each other using file storage services, and document their learnings in shared wikis. They can even create digital artifacts together in real-time, using tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, mind mapping, charting, design prototyping, and pair programming.
Animated GIF of two users typing in a spreadsheet, with one user typing in the first column and the other user typing in the second.
Collaborative real-time editing of a Google spreadsheet.
When multiple people are working on the same digital artifact, they can work more quickly and build on each other's ideas—but they might accidentally overwrite each other's contributions. That's why most collaborative software also includes revision history: a log of edits with timestamps, authors, and the ability to revert back to an edit.
Screenshot of a version history table, with columns for version number, publish date, author, and actions.
Version history for a Khan Academy wiki page.
All of this collaborative technology is possible thanks to cloud computing. Online services host the software and user data in the "cloud"—Internet-connected servers and data centers—and that makes it possible for multiple users to access the same functionality and data at the same time.
Diagram of cloud computing: a cloud with two servers surrounded by four users on laptops and tablets.
🤔 Consider what you create with groups of people in physical spaces. What isn't possible to create collaboratively online? Are there fundamental technological reasons why we can't create those things online, or are we just waiting for the right entrepreneur to come along? You, perhaps?

🙋🏽🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏿‍♂️Do you have any questions about this topic? We'd love to answer—just ask in the questions area below!

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