I have no trouble with saying that Google has changed certain aspects of my life, and certainly I would feel lost without being able to use Google, but am I ready for Google Gears? I am not sure, right now it’s leaving me feeling that it’s a step too far, and in a direction that abandons the very notion of why I want Google. Maybe I have got it wrong, but to me Google is about being not just connected to, but being part of a whole world of online activity. So why do I want Google Gears to allow me to work offline from data held in my machine? Surely that’s the other side of the coin, and all those existing applications and data on the disc do this well. Perhaps I have got it wrong because I do admit to using Google Desktop to search on my machine whether I am on or offline. The reasoning from Google CEO Eric Schmidt seems to make sense when he described Gears as ‘tackling the major limitation of the browser’ but then that repositions the browser as a working environment to compete with Windows head on using Google Gears as the engine driving the browser. Mmm, I have to think about this; I have already come to the conclusion that it’s possible to redesign certain workers’ activities using content based working. My personal use case for this is the example of the local office for a number of EU Agriculture Inspectors covering the same farms, but for different crops and subsidies. Their job has perhaps a 5% procedural application at the beginning to find the details of the claim and past payments, and 15% procedural element at the end to actually make the payment the inspector has decided is correct. In between is all ‘content based’ working using a wide variety of information from aerial photos to maps, bills to measurements, etc, etc. This is perfect material for tagging, and sharing, with the other inspectors ready for when they need to visit the same farm or market. Plenty of online sites to store this content on, but what happens offline? Well it would be handy if I did my homework first and decided exactly what was needed. In this case I would find it beneficial to download and hold the data on my machine, but the other part of my mind is saying that turns it all into a fixed procedure just like an application. The alternative is to use a wireless connected PC to be online, and able to respond to ‘events’ as they happen, finding the content as and when needed. I am not sure about this; have I got the right idea, or does Gears let developers come up with a completely different approach to building solutions? As with so much at the moment the future belongs to people who think differently when considering how to apply technology to business, or even social networking. You can get a downloadable beta of Gears right here.