Groove is a collaboration application which was designed by Ray Ozzie, the original designer of Lotus Notes. One of the major differences between Groove and Notes, is that Groove is designed to be peer-to-peer; data is stored locally.

Groove provides a series of applications that allow you to share information and functions. These include a calendar, a “conversation space”, which is like a bulletin board, file sharing and audioconferencing. None of these are unique; there are many web applications that do some or all of these things. However, the peer-to-peer aspect of Groove is a major departure from most web-based applications. As an added bonus, the Groove interface is attractive, and novel, without being difficult to use.

I tested Groove late last year, using a three-user workgroup, (myself and two colleagues) and as a member a larger group of about 30 german-speaking Groove enthusiasts. I found it to be interesting, but not functional or fast enough for regular use, at least over a modem. The most disconcerting thing about it was that the function which synchronizes the data between all participants seemed to run non-stop whenever I was connected. This swamped my modem connection on a constant basis, making it almost impossible to do anything else at the same time. If users have a high-bandwidth connection, within a corporate internetwork, say, or DSL or a cable modem, the software might work better.

However, it is worth watching. Groove, like Napster, another peer-to-peer application is the wave of the future in many ways. Currently Groove is in beta testing, and it may be downloaded and tried for free. There are a series of lively conferences about Groove, with timely and helpful tech support.

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