Odds are, you didn’t notice that sometime in the last couple of days, the tiny text in the bottom left corner of your Google Drive display stopped saying something like “3GB (10%) used of 30GB” and now just says “3GB used”. That’s because Google no longer has any limit on the storage available to WFU accounts. This is part of a rollout they announced a few weeks ago giving limitless storage to their Apps for Education customers. (Okay, there is one limit: individual files cannot exceed 1TB in size. But if you have a hundred 999GB files, you’re good to go.)
This gives students and faculty an open ended space to park their notes, photos, music, backups – you name it. It can also be storage space for articles, with control over who gets access to them, and likewise data files. In one fell swoop, Drive has become part of the discussion in topics like Open Data and Institutional Repositories. Earlier today, I heard a LITA Forum keynote that stressed (among other things) that “Workflow is the new content” and that repositories need to work with scholarly authors to meet their needs and convenience, not the other way around. Now Drive is a drag-and-drop option from everyone’s desktop, and we need to think about that for a bit.
Did Google Drive just become our institutional repository? No, of course not. The IR has to handle archival responsibilities, provide sound metadata and discoverability, and offer the imprimatur of university branding (think of WakeSpace as an imprint). But Drive did just make itself one attractive answer to a bunch of related questions, and we need to be on our toes to keep other answers, like WakeSpace, viable.