This afternoon Alec Couros (@courosa) tweeted out an invite to play with the new Google Docs interface and test the real time editing features. You can see the results by clicking here.
In a very short amount of time more than 50 people had joined the doc. Colored editing flags skittered about as people added thoughts and hellos. The new commenting feature helped highlight suggestions and facilitated side conversations ranging from how to turn the new features on and changing the anonymous label to your user name to a discussion about ownership rights, fair use and creative commons. Hours later the document is continuing to morph. Eventually, it will be trashed by some random passerby but the revision history may rectify any damage.
But the best part was seeing a Google Doc become a platform for a spontaneous act of sharing. Yes, this is the strange love child of Google Wave and Etherpad, and yes, some of the old features are missing and the new ones are a bit raw, but I like it! Thanks to all who participated. I plan to embed a screen capture of the live editing that I took this afternoon, so check back tomorrow. And take a look. The directions for getting started are currently part of the doc, at least for now.
Here's another resource in case the directions get deleted.