Online collaboration is a way of working together with other people to achieve a goal without necessarily needing to meet in person. In order to work together on most projects, members of the work group often need to be able to talk to one another through messages and chats, access and edit files, and plan deadlines. There are specific programs that accommodate these needs, or they can be met through a variety of other programs that perform one or more necessary details. While many different professions make use of online collaboration to allow professionals to work from home or in different parts of the country, there are also creative groups that make use of online collaboration for unpaid projects.
Given the diversity of online programs and the depth with which most professionals understand the Internet, it is not often necessary to resort to specialized online collaboration programs. In fact, most people can get by using only their email provider and programs used by all working parties. Many email and chat programs have video options that can be used simultaneously with other programs, allowing the work group to communicate together and send files to one another at the same time. This allows for instantaneous decision making and immediate changes to the project.
For even more intimate collaboration, application sharing can be used. This allows all team members to use the program at the same time, modifying documents in real time. Using application sharing for online collaboration is best when all team members are involved in a particular aspect of a project. When the project is strictly divided with each team member performing a highly independent task, this is somewhat unnecessary.
One of the most interesting uses of online collaboration is for artistic endeavors. Online collaboration allows, for example, musicians to create songs together without having to be in the same room. Each instrument can be recorded separately and put together, or the entire group can play at the same time. One interesting way that musicians do this is to start with one person playing one instrument and have each person add on in turn.
This type of collaboration is also a way for artists in a variety of fields to work together to create larger projects. For instance, a writer might connect with an artist to create an illustrated book. It is often difficult for people interested in a very specific kind of art or project to find other people with similar interests, and working online greatly facilitates this process. Although online collaboration is extremely useful for businesses and professionals, it has proven equally valuable to people who want to work together for the love of a craft rather than money.