Note the last sentence above: “In order to capitalize on the new possibilities at hand, we need to start thinking of a file as being an ‘intelligent container’ – an intelligent file – rather than a specific document type.” Doris is saying that the language we use to describe something influences the way we use it. Do you agree?
Term No. 2: “document type” is really an “intelligent file”
Paper-based definition: Documents were all on paper and their “type” was defined by the role they played. Quick notes to share with offices or teams were memoranda. Correspondence with clients and external team members took place via letters. Drawings on large sheets of paper were plans.
Digital 1.0 definition: First-generation digital files mimicked their paper origins, replacing letters with DOC files, memos with e-mails, drawings with DWG files, and so on. These file types were still defined by their purpose and output, because most often they would be printed or plotted.
Digital 2.0 definition: Intelligent files are complex file types which accept embedded file types such as pictures, tables, nested drawings or hyperlinks – even movies! Architects can embed specifications, material types and properties inside a drawing file, engineers can assign values and embed calculations. In order to capitalize on the new possibilities at hand, we need to start thinking of a file as being an “intelligent container” – an intelligent file – rather than a specific document type.
Could calling a file a document limit its use to the ways we may use paper? People may not put pictures in a paper document, nor link to information on the web. So we may not think to do so even when that document exists as electrons, and may never be printed on paper.
We’ll explore this idea further in coming posts.