I think a lot about the submit button. The process of taking something that you own and uploading it to someone else is an act of trust. I am trusting that everything that I submit to Flickr will be there when I look for it, without some crazy provisions or copyright license on it. I am trusting that the presentations I upload to Slideshare will be embeddable wherever I want them to be. Whenever I submit an assignment in an online course, I am trusting that it will be valued by the person on the other end and not just put into a virtual file cabinet to make one more check on a class checklist.
This trust isn’t something that we should take lightly or that we should let rest as it is. There is inherently a problem with turning over your work to something else via a button. The transaction method of turning things in is all wrong. When we have to turn over all authority of the things we have authored, we are no longer able to take responsibility for where they end up. And we should be able to do that. We should be always able to make decisions about our content, continuing to extend its existence wi every link and collaboration.
I want to start making Dropbox the standard for submitting. The very idea of dropping your content into a folder on your desktop and having that sync into a space that other people and services have access to is he future of sharing. Removing content or revising it updates the files everywhere that they are referenced, preserving your control and your ability to revise and continue to come back to where you have already been without recreating or storing every ne version on every different service that comes into existence.
I want to turn in assignments by dropping files onto my desktop and revise my answers with a simple save. I want to share them with everyone else who is in my class and have the facilitator see that sharing as well. I want to have photo sharing sites get access to my collection through a sync from my computer. I want to always maintain the copies but know that they exist and are accessible easily.
The possibilities for creating are simple and elegant when you remove the pressure of the submit button. When you no longer have to wait until something is good enough to start syncing it our to the world, collaboration has the ability to take hold of everything that you do. When you don’t have to be connected to the web in order to check in on what other people have contributed, we aren’t tethered to any device or service. Sharing ownership of our work and also being able to continue to expand its use is the next journey that we must attempt.
This is the workflow I see:
Any file that is on your device is on the cloud is also shared with others and is found on other’s hard drives. The redundancy allows for backup after backup of our work. All of these drives and versions are networked and allow us to see as a work progresses because a visualization of all edits across the world will be a part of the metadata of the file itself. Each file will be editable on all devices either by a local program or a cloud based service. The file will not care which. Microsoft word and Google Docs will simply be the way we revise the much more powerful part of this process: the sharing. Each file will become linked and embeddable. And because of the way all of these hard drives are networked, the file will not be embedded just from the cloud service, but it will also be embedded from the original source (your device). This will mean that we will always be able to track where content has come from and where it goes to. The single source of truth will be the person that created it, and if they delete it, all that will be left will be the remixes and revisions that work under fair use.
None of this will happen if we keep on with the submit button as the only way to share (this button takes many forms, but it is the function that I think is going to hold us back). We need to move toward sharing responsibility for our files and our ideas. We need to submit by moving things around on our devices and not just on the services that seem to come and go every few weeks. We need share via a link that will always exist, instead of break with every whim of a few shareholders. The infrastructure isn’t what needs a tweak. It is us. We need to push what our own devices can do and what we are willing to pay for as well. We need to become our own data centers and wharehouses. We need to become our own cloud, all with the idea that Google or someone else will also have backups of our stuff too. Because you know they will.
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