No More Documents


This post from just over a year ago is the clearest statement I’ve seen of Google’s intentions for Blink, the browser rendering engine which Google forked from WebKit and which powers Chrome, the “web browser”/“application platform”. The intense focus is on performance of Blink as a platform for mobile applications, and not at all on document rendering features.

But really, who needs documents anyway?

The web is no longer a desktop publishing platform, it’s most often a networked medium for machine-machine communication. Hardly anyone writes English (though a lot of people, and some machines, can read it to some extent). Data is best communicated as objects, tables, graphs, games, worlds. Processes are best communicated as scripts.

All the old “features” that came part and parcel with printed documents are relics of an age where information was fixed in stone (well, wood pulp). In a hyperlinked network with history of where code/data/information was forked/included from, there’s no need to explicitly cite previous work. Data analysis is cool, and infographics are viral (particularly when they’re slightly inaccurate), but the raw data is enough, and machines/people can (literally) draw their own conclusions. Authorship is immaterial (jk, partly), and when is anything ever authored by a single person, anyway?

So: no more making points without data, no more explanation without exploration, no more statements without reproducibility: no more documents.