More Files Please

Scott Jenson has a great article called “The future needs files”.

The power of files comes from them being powerful nouns. They are temporary holding blocks that are used as a form of exchange between applications. A range of apps can edit a single file in a single location.

Files as a medium of exchange between applications — I like that. It’s akin to the usefulness of currency.

The most powerful aspect of files is that they liberate your data. Any app can see it and do something useful to it.

Files represent a “data first vs app first organization”. If you’re planning a wedding, you put everything wedding related into a folder. All your data is now in one place vs. strewn across various apps.

Documents — like a Notion doc — are today’s folders: they contain a list of links to “files” that will open in bespoke applications.

But there are drawbacks, like interoperability. Do we want to trust our data to the success or failure of a single company?

Files encapsulate a ‘chunk’ of your work and allow that chunk to be seen, moved, acted on, and accessed by multiple people and more importantly external 3rd party processes.

Can you imagine working on a codebase — which is a set of files — but the files were locked to a particular IDE? Craziness.

Personally, I’m a file guy. I love files. And I wish more products worked in the currency of exchange of files.