Unattached

Recently, there’s been a subtle shift in the way I’ve been receiving attachments from people at work that has eroded a fundamental annoyance I’ve always had with email attachments. That is, the proliferation of stale, disparate and potentially-widely distributed copies of files spiraling out of my control.

This all started with our transition to Google Apps for email. That change brought with it access to this new thing called Google Drive.

Now, rather than attaching files to emails, people are attaching living links to documents. There are a number of benefits to doing this:

It seems subtle, but this is a powerful shift. It doesn’t mean someone can’t download my attachment and share it independently, though the nature of the link can help dissuade that behavior (by linking to an embedded flash PDF viewer, for example).

We’re not done yet:

Ultimately though, I’m glad to see the attachment as a pointer rather than the attachment as a blob. That always felt crude to me.

 
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