Chalk one up for (flawed) usefulness.

(Almost) every morning, I skim various tech sites for news. Often there’s nothing that exciting. Today, there was an article about an interesting iPad-only web app from 37Signals. It’s called “Chalk.” Read on for the skinny and my $0.02.

37Signals makes simple software to help small businesses work
smarter more collaboratively. Yeah, we’ll go with that. Is collaboratively a word? I don’t know. Moving on.

37Signals’ Chalk web app, which can be found at, is fairly simple. Basically, it’s a chalkboard. And two pieces of chalk. And an eraser. That’s… that’s about it. So how does it work? You pick up your iPad, open Safari, and type in Done. Start writing / drawing / scribbling / whatevering. Okay, I know whatevering isn’t a word. I don’t care.

So how is this collaborative? Well, it’s not.

Not in the way we usually think of things being collaborative, anyway. As in, it’s not real-time collaborative. If you’ve sketched something that you want to share with others, you click on the “share” button (which looks strikingly like the share button in Photos,) and it loads a page that has a picture of what you’ve just drawn on the chalkboard. To share it, you then tap and hold your finger on the drawing, and the Safari image menu comes up, asking you if you’d like to save the image, or copy it. If you save it, it is obviously saved to your Photos on the iPad, for syncing back later. If you copy it, you can paste it in an email, or any other app that accepts the pasting of pictures.

While I’m not sure I’d have gone with this method of collaborativeishness (again, not a word,) and instead would have tried to make something with real-time collaboration, but that’s just me. Chalk does have the advantage of being extremely small and quick, and from what I’ve read, you don’t even need to be connected to the internet to use it, as long as you’ve got it bookmarked or have created an icon for it on your home screen. So, if fake-time collaboration (which is, of course, the opposite of real-time collaboration) is what you seek, should be in your Safari bookmarks.


About Christopher Galik

Tech Services Department, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District, Buffalo, NY. My district's name is longer than yours. I fix things with plugs.
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