“Folders” are the modern Gordian Knot in information fragmentation and overload


Donato Creti (Cremona 1671–1749 Bologna) Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot

In today’s gargantuan information growth and complex IT structures, sharing information and knowledge has become an everyday nightmare, paralyzing people’s creativity modus and will to transform information to knowledge. In my opinion, this is due to just one reason. We are stuck in the past and only moved a few inches from the basic principles of information storing and information sharing ever since the first computer was introduced. To prove it, please look at the following Xerox Star 8010 Information System from a 1982 presentation. It’s quite shocking to see the same and basic principles of managing information, that is using “folders” copy, paste, move, email ‘in and out basket’, printing, a two-button mouse and a desktop environment.

This is ludicrous, to this day our basic principles of information storing and information sharing haven’t changed a bit, operating systems only got smarter by using shortcuts like ‘right click to create new “folder”’. It’s not how you create it, it’s what you create, and that is using “folders” to store various data-sets of information and use email to share and collaborate with others.

“Folder” trees have become as unsolvable as a Gordian Knot in all organizations, and certainly in large enterprises. Everyone creates branches as wide and tall as they believe it makes sense to them, and only them, without considering the whole. And why shouldn’t they? Just right click and create as many “folders” as you like, with any name or “structure”. Another problem is the inability to dynamically hyperlink files and “folders” as one knows when using Wiki pages. This means that all “folders” and their content are incapable to be linked with each other. Inevitably, users must memorize “folder” paths, file storage locations, file names, and worse, relationships between the various content types. Imagine all Wikipedia in “folders”, would you remember most of the paths, or would you browse back and forth to find the right Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Pdf file?

Digital workplaces and Intranets can only succeed to their fullest potential when organizations and enterprises realize the need to change from the current status quo of information storing (“folders”) to a more fluid and NETWORKED content, both on the cloud and on-premise infrastructure.

All it takes is one decision: Abolish “folders”, just like the solution in the Gordian Knot myth, and your Information Management life will change for ever.

We treat the cloud as if it’s a 1990’s file server to share files in hypothetical “folder” trees, or else, legacy FTP server style. Any modern collaboration platform that uses “folders” is in principal a modern UI interpretation of an FTP server, nothing else!

We need basic principal changes in information storing and information sharing if one want’s to overcome information fragmentation and subsequently, information overload.

I live “folder” free for the past seven plus years. The time is ripe to share my experience and working techniques with you all, you’ll be surprised.

Thank you and see you soon.