Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Document or container?

I have been spending a lot of time recently pondering the document life cycle - how does a document get created, when does it get shared, where does it get stored, how does access to the document change over time, what can you reasonably expect people to do with metadata, etc. I've been fixated on document storage and access control this morning.

We assign control by containers, which requires us to copy or move documents from one storage location to another -- home drive, shared drive, collaboration site, web server, etc. But why move a document? Why not just leave the document in place and change the access to it?

One reason is personal backup. People tend to want their own copy of a document in case something goes awry once it leaves their sole control. More importantly, though, is convenience. ACL's are a pain. It's simpler to move a document to a container with predefined access that suits your needs, even though access to that container may be too broad, too narrow, or both.

The question on my mind is do we simplify granting document access, or do we provide more and more granular containers? Ideally, I think you simplify access control. If that is the right answer, how do we start moving there?

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