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28/02/2005

Shinkuro: Collaboration and Social Networking Tool

Once in a while you hit on a product that does all the basic tricks you need. But then, complications: cost, learning curve, platform .. Not so with Shinkuro. When you are looking for a collaboration tool with build-in networking capability, look no further. Joi Ito just reviewed it and shares my enthusiasm:

"It's basically a very cryptographically robust, cross-platform collaboration tool. It allows you to create groups and share folders of files, has a shared chat space (like IRC) and allows you to share your desktop screen with other members of the group (yes, across platforms). The shared files are transfered in the background and edits to files are sent as diffs which can be accepted into the original by the recipient. There is also standard IM with your buddy list. The great thing is that all of the traffic is encrypted. 256 bit AES and 2048 bit RSA keys. Each message is encrypted with a unique key, and the key is transmitted under the RSA key. This is very important since I know for a fact that people sniff IM and other traffic at many of the conferences and public places. The folder in the groups is really nifty. You drop files into a folder and you can see who has received the files and see any changes that are waiting for you. This seems so much more organized than the tons of attachments and updates I receive before board meetings and conference calls. It seems similar to Groove in some ways, but is more lightweight and most importantly cross-platform. (Mac, Windows, Linux.)"

One thing he doesn't mention is its build-in social networking capability. You can ask your collaborator, 'friend', who his/her friends are. So you can switch from a collaborative session to a social networking chat and, if needed, start a new group and collaborate with that person and others.

Shinkuro uses a relay server to pass files and messages from one person to another. When the recipient is offline, the files are stored on the relay until the person reconnects. When you are on the same LAN, but for whatever reason not connected to the relay server, Shinkuro will automatically discover all other Shinkuro users and connect directly to them. This has the added benefit of being able to build an ad-hoc collaboration network even if no internet connectivity exists.

What about WiFi? Well, just set your WiFi to ad-hoc or peer to peer mode. Any other Shinkuro user running the same way will discover and connect to you.

The interface needs a polish, but otherwise it's really a fantastic tool and free for now (all indications are that prices will be another plus). By the way, 'shinkuro' is the Japanese word for 'synchro'. My id: 'jean!shinkuro'.

For more, check Gillian Kerr and Robin Good.

Posted by Jean Scholtes in Mobile | Permalink

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