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Trees versus file cabinets

Not to go on too much about this…but it just goes to show how much we have come to accept these less-than-enlightened metaphors in our work lives. The file cabinet metaphor was appropriate back in the day when people wore skinny ties and had three martini lunches (sigh…). But that was a long time ago.

How far has our work environment evolved since then? In some ways, light years. In others, not so much. The two things that boggle my mind are:

1. That we would try to organize our thinking by using a mental image of a grey metal file cabinet: How memorable is that?

2. That we communicate essentially using a modern version of the telegraph. The metaphor there is send a message, receive a message, send a message, receive a message…Yes, I’m talking about email. It’s great because it’s so immediate. But it is so linear! Reading threaded conversations is like unwinding a scroll.

Neither of these metaphors — both of which are at the absolute CORE of how we try to run our professional lives — reflect the ways huge numbers of us best store knowledge or communicate with one another…

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