Collaboration Driven Content–Who Owns the Future of Collaboration?

Collaboration Driven Content–Who Owns the Future of Collaboration?

People using collaboration tools have found that working on shared documents often struggle, as they charge small portions of a document to meet their obligations, but perform those edits on an entire document. This situation is exacerbated even more when working on legal documents, when some parties should not see portions of a document at all.

Over time, documents will evolve so that they are much more granular. The Web presages this by compiling web pages from references to various images and text streams brought together on a screen for viewing.

I believe it is important for documents to eventually evolve into assembled components that are managed at both the assembled document level and at the component level, depending upon the specifications of the requester, the author or the team responsible for them.

This will give individual information workers greater control over their content, and much more precision on the content they are responsible for creating and maintaining. Document components should also facilitate new publishing models for published content as the information about component ownership and rights will be embedded with the document, making rights clearance and micropayments to authors more transparent. It will also push security models down to the content level, so that edge security services may eventually be rendered obsolete as content learns to protect itself.

So there is a vision. I have vetted this with many companies, but it doesn’t seem that the owners of collaboration understand the implications of this approach. It means dismantling much of what they have built around to create collaboration around documents. The future isn’t document-centric, it is component-centric – and the sooner we find tools to meet that reality, the sooner we can all move into a more rational and efficient future.

Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.


    comments user

    MN St Louis Park Attorney

    This is a valid blog. I think you make a good point. Thanks for raising awareness of this. I have really enjoyed viewing your post.

    comments user


    Hi Daniel,

    I find your point of view interesting. Basically I do agree with it. Having people to collaborate to create document components is certainly the way to go and programmers should find it easy to support. Strange that one does not find more products to support that. I think people try Wikis for this because they find it most easy to define components. I think habbits and the challenge to negotiate meaningful components hinder people to ask for more of such features. In the early days of the web got enthusiastic about hyperlinked web components. But after the “rush” was over, thinks ended up in the corner not used. That was it and I think caused also some frustration for the participants. I would not wonder if you have an explanation why this happend.

    I think a lot of collaboration and how to support it via software tools or platforms because as early as 10 years ago, I founded a second company where the question was how to collaborate computer based over a long distance.

    From that experience I would agree that the future is not document centric, at least for a dynamically dispersed group working interactively to solve a problem. However, if that is true, than one cannot bring back the document as an aggregate of mini or component documents. One needs to abondon them fully when that is possible in the given context.

    We work in a virtual team sinc more than 10 years creating software and hardly create any documents, even though creating some more of them would help.

    I see people trying to avoid documents whenever possible and therefore, collaboration seems to be centered arround something else, but not documents in any form. I believe collaboration is centered arround outcomes and tools should point out those to collaborators. Project Management tools try to help here but seem to fail.

    Let me know your thougths on this.

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