Recently, Evernote CEO Phil Libin announced a plan to kill files. Evernote will be creating “a collaborative workspace, where colleagues come together whether in the same place or on opposite sides of the globe. Emailing files goes away, because ideas sit in a central repository accessible to a group. It’s a place to be creative and get work done.” [Quote is from CNBC, not a direct quote of Libin.]
I totally agree with Libin that “We no longer need these archaic concepts of…folders,” and “We need to be thinking about a new set of metaphors.” But, Libin also applies this idea to spreadsheets, slides and docs.
Meanwhile, Slack bought Spaces to “form the basis of a new document editing tool that Slack aims to include in its software later this year,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Google Drive has always had excellent collaborative editing tools and has recently opened an API so that various companies can make Drive plugins for file creation. Of course, the files from these tools are stored on Drive and accessed from it. One wonders when Dropbox will launch content editing tools. Box already has them.
There are several attempts to keep storage, content creation, content editing and communication all on one platform. This is a Sisyphean undertaking by all parties.
Consider a quick survey of the tools Brief uses to create, store, edit and communicate content. We are a start-up of 3 people.
- Balsamiq for wireframing
- Adobe Photoshop for design comps
- Google Docs for text files
- Microsoft Word for text files that come from our lawyers
- Preview for text files that we want to view and annotate as PDFs so they can’t be changed
- Sublime Text for text files that are really code
- Powerpoint because they still look better than Google Presentations
- Google Sheets because even though Libin says, “99% of Excel files have no math in them,” ours do
- Dropbox to store PDFs, Word Docs, Powerpoints, and Design files
- Google Drive to access Google Docs and Google Sheets
- Evernote for to-do lists, audio recordings, and web-clippings
- Gchat for external real-time communication
- Slack for internal real-time communication
- Gmail for external communication
- SendGrid for email services and email data
- Google Analytics for web site traffic
- Unbounce for splash page creation and lead capture
- Pivotal Tracker for engineering and design task management
- GitHub for branch management
- WordPress for blogging
- XCode for iOS app development
- Magitest for user testing
I was going to explicate a theory about the proliferation and value of specialized tools for specialized activities and the futility of one company trying to do it all. But, I think this list speaks for itself.
Whether you call them “files” or “collaborative spaces,” there will always be specialized data objects with varying amounts of specific structure that need to be accessed and worked on.
The real question is how do we organize and connect the huge volume of information within and across the various services to gain insight into our business activities. That’s what Brief is working on. Stay tuned to hear our answers. We think they’re pretty cool.
ps. Anyone want to place any bets on when the first “work chat bankruptcy” will be declared?