“Flat file” (n. tech esp. IT): a file having no internal hierarchy
We’re all familiar with filing systems. Remember John le Carre’s Head of Registry, Brenda, who could rummage mentally through miles and miles of dusty, classified folders to spot in minutes the one overlooked connection that unpicked the whole conspiracy? Well a flat file and a good search engine make Brenda’s folders redundant.
Defined by your Filing Structure?
Traditional business organisations used to be surprisingly defined by their file structures. The decision maker would call for the file – let’s say on soap marketing – complete with current research on the topic, previous plans, budget and correspondence. Decisions would be based on the information to hand, defined by physical file. This tended to preclude new associations – a mental silo. If you wanted to market new edible, toffee-flavoured soap (Ugh!), the old inflexible physical file will block your path
Flat File, a Single Unstructured Heap?
A flat file holds all your documents in a single unstructured heap in your computer, with every single word indexed, just waiting to be filtered and sorted, over and over again, according to whatever combination of criteria may be required at any moment. There is no need to anticipate, as in a physical filing system, what combinations of information will be required in the future. This lets you extract all the value from your information you want as and when you want it
A Tool for Creativity?
Using the power of Boolean logic (more to come), you can search by infinite combinations of dates, subjects, authors, readers and content certain dates. A file then becomes a tool of creativity. Google Search works on exactly that principle, (though it fiddles with the results for its commercial purposes).
In essence, flat filing really is a tool for creativity in business, allowing us to come up with fresh ideas and approaches. For example, all the communications your business has ever written become available to as precedents, that supplier you once thought was so irrelevant that you’ve forgotten its name can be found by searching by its product, or, more prosaically, you can quickly list all those who have accessed a sensitive document that has been leaked.
Of course if you’d like to learn more about how to freshen your broadband approach, then feel free to give James or Linda a call on 01228 217171 or email me.