Yesterday we started work on an FAQ. Our project-leader posted the first set of questions (questions without answers as our starting point) as a Word document. All the subsequent work – group thinking about the right questions, not much about the answers yet, took place in email. In fact, the list was soon being amended and re-ordered in lengthy emails; so we dropped the Word doc.

It is probable that we will carry on working on the FAQ without using Word. In fact, Word and Excel, which five or ten years ago seemed to be the essential tools of daily business, are now increasingly like formal clothes which one will only don, reluctantly, for a funeral or special occasion (eg drafting a new contract, or producing a five year plan). Chances are that this is not a view limited to web startups, and there is a cultural shift away from desktop applications towards web solutions. So Google’s move towards documents and spreadsheets is timely. I registered with Writely months before it was taken over by Google. Unfortunately, if I go to use it now I get this message “Safari support for Google Docs is coming soon!” Google’s takeover of Writely happened about the same time as I switched from a Windows machine to a Mac. From Internet Explorer to Safari.

Wikipedia has an informative explanation of the origins and applications of FAQs…..

Our FAQ needs more work, but it should be ready within the next month.