Saturday, July 07, 2007

Smart Documents - Help us Xerox and Adobe!

Like me, all of you have hard drives full of documents that are organized into folders. But that barely helps keep track of all of the docs that you have and are interested in retrieving some day. I have innocuous folder names like "Other Organizations" and "Media Relations" into which I drop all sorts of documents. I even have one entitled "Ocean of Info" for all of the stuff that I want to keep but have no idea how to organize it.

Why are all of these docs still as dumb as a piece of paper? When are they going to organize and file themselves and come a running when I need them? A document needs to be a lot smarter than they have been in the past. Such smarts would be a huge step forward in managing the deluge of information in the world and the small fraction of that which lands on my hard drive.

Yes, I know that we are in the Age of Search, which means that Google has a solution for everything. I have tried Google Desktop on a couple of my machines. What I immediately noticed was that he machine was less responsive to simple tasks like opening documents and applications. It turns out that the CPU was busy searching, sorting, and indexing my documents while I was trying to work. It was so disruptive that I soon uninstalled the applications and returned to my old, and pitiful methods of organizing documents. [Note: I know that as soon as I write this criticism of a piece of software that another person who loves it will tell me that it has improved and I should try it again. No thanks, I am a fly fisherman of software. You get one chance to impress me, then I am off to something else.]

So I think that Xerox and Adobe might be just the right companies to look at making all of my documents smarter. Make them organize themselves and come running when I call - like a tiny ming-reading, fairy is attached to each one. Please thrill us with this simple but essential capability. My "Ocean of Info" folder is waiting to be sorted out.

Fortune Article: Xerox Inventor in Chief

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Sophie Vandebroek said...

Hi Roger,
I certainly can relate to the challenge of creating, organizing, filing and then finding the right versions of documents on my laptop, in my office, at home or distributed on the web with our partners worldwide. In Xerox we are dedicated to looking for solutions that make a difference. We are researching ways to add intelligence and structure to digital and paper documents so that the information contained in them can be easily and quickly understood and automatically used to make decisions or to take action. Imagine a business-critical document that knows where it needs to go next within a business process and automatically routes itself there (ie, for approval or for getting a message back to your customer)? Or perhaps a simple tool that will help you locate not only the document – but the section within it – that you need just when you need it no matter where you are and what the language is?

We have technologies now that do much of this and more in our research labs. To see descriptions of some of them please visit our innovation site.

While we’ve got natural language, text-mining, and machine learning technologies that can help search and easily find documents once they are filed, we currently don’t have any research devoted to developing “mind-reading fairies” :)

Sophie
CTO, Xerox

4:01 PM  

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