SharePoint Joel writes on the future of documents, and concludes their days are numbered.
What is a document? Is it that restrictive format that has a bunch of text in it with all that formatting to make it presentable? Sometimes they get corrupted. Not so much as the late eighties, but really what is a document is it the file? Is it the format? Is it the information inside of the document that is what really defines it? The .Doc and .DOCX today is simply a description of the text and layout of the information in the file.
I especially like his observation–which closely matches my own thinking:
Putting information into a .doc is like throwing something in a closet. The closet might get opened again, now put it in a folder and it’s like putting it in a filing cabinet in a closet. Nest those more and more and it’s likely to never be read again. SharePoint to the rescue and search might make those stats more likely to be found. Meta data and all that jazz will again increase the likelihood of it being read again.
I’ve learned that we don’t need most documents that are created and emailed in Corporate Land. We don’t need them and we don’t need to invest to make, publish, read, store, or retain them.
We probably need some of the information, and that information needs to be put into places which work better. Those places are being discovered.