Draftback is a Chrome extension that lets you play back any Google Doc’s revision history (for docs you can edit). It’s like going back in time to look over your own shoulder as you write.
The above is not a video but an embed from Draftback!
Quite amazing, in the short playback above you can see how horrible a typist I am and also see Ian Stuart adding text to the document at the same time as me!
After I posted on G+ this Martian Hawksey commented with a link How I reverse-engineered Google Docs to play back any document’s keystrokes « James Somers (jsomers.net). Which give detail of the creation, a fascinating read.
The data that Google stores is, as you might expect, kind of incredible. What we actually have is not just a coarse “video” of a document — we have the complete history of every single character. Draftback is aware of this history, and assigns each character a persistent unique ID, which makes it possible to do stuff that I don’t think folks have really done to a piece of writing before.
And among explanations that go over my head things like this:
When you’re using Google Docs, you’re not actually typing into where you think you’re typing. You’re typing into a textarea in an iFrame off-screen, and through the postMessage API, those events are being sent to the “edit surface” that you see, which does stuff like draw your cursor. (Your cursor on Docs isn’t actually a cursor, it’s a 2px-wide
Would this be a useful tool in the classroom? For discussing pupil work or demonstrating writing?