How Drop Box Aided the Hun Invasion of China

In my self-proclaimed guise of "tech pusher" I am always seeking out real world examples where collaborative technology, mostly web based, is used to change a process for the better.

One of my favorite non-tech "gigs" is that of the fall director for Wilton Children's Theater. We start in September with 55 4th through 8th graders and, by the week before Thanksgiving, put on a musical. I have been involved in community and youth theater for over 20 years now and it is always a collaborative exercise.

The collaborative aspect of producing any show involves balancing schedules, who's in what scene, costumes, props etc. When I started this was all done on paper with pen and pencil but has, over the years, moved to emailing Excel spreadsheets around to the various people. This is great except now you have multiple versions floating around and you are never sure where or who has the latest version. For this falls' production of Disney's Mulan Jr. I saw an opportunity to try something different.

This year I introduced the production team, producers, props and sets people, and high school staff to DropBox, the smash-hit, save-to-the-cloud resource that Forbes Magazine reported was seen as such a game changer that Steve Jobs wanted to buy, for a rumored 9 figure price tag, it for Apple (They said no so he built iCloud).

How it works in it's simplest form is that you install Dropbox on your computer and you get a folder in myDocuments called, well, dropbox. then you get the app for your iPhone or your iPad. Anything that you save to your Dropbox folder on either device is available on the other devices as long as they have access to the internet.

When you take this simple yet elegant functionality and then couple it with a team things get amazing. You can invite people via their email addresses to join a folder in your dropbox. They can add and edit items there.

What this meant for us this fall is that there was one spreadsheet. That whenever someone made changes, the rest of the team was notified and could see the changes. The management of the paperwork involved in the production of a musical with 55 actors became a whole lot easier. The Huns were where they needed to be and dressed appropriately Hun-ny for their big invasion every night, the Chinese army under Shang was were it needed to be with it's correct weaponry and Mulan and Mushu were on cue to save the day.