guide table of contents) ------- (MS
Word New Users FAQ)
This chapter last edited by Charles
Tuesday 03 January 2023
Previous MetaData Articles by Bob Blacksberg can be found in Woody's Office
Watch Archives. WOW
5.42 and WOW
"THE WORD OF LAW
Power Word tips for all users, especially in legal and large organizations from Bob
Blacksberg. Copied with express permission from Woody's Office Watch #5.54.
iSCRUB MY WORD DOCUMENTS CLEAN
Readers of this column may find helpful an article published in Peer to Peer, the newsletter of LawNet, entitled, "Three E's for Excellence: Critical Strategies for Microsoft Word."
(http://www.peertopeer.org/archives/0011_03.htm). Written with a very tight word limit it summarizes the major themes of this column.
Since the appearance of the last Word of Law column, I have been working with my colleagues on the development of a enterprise-wide tool for the management and cleanup of Word metadata. We hope that by sharing some of the design concepts of what we call iScrub, we can help readers connect the concepts stated in this column with a metadata solution.
In the article in
Peer to Peer, we offered the following critical rules for metadata management:
Create clean documents.
When creating a new document, disconnect it from its past life. Copy the body of the old document into a shell created with new document templates.
Avoid use of Versions and Fast Save that can leave deleted text in a document. Add substantive or instructional comments using the Comment function, not hidden text, footnotes or endnotes.
Don't send, publish.
Users must practice appropriate procedures when sending or sharing an electronic copy of a file with outsiders. Publishing a document means following electronic cleanup procedures such as removing comments, undesired Track Changes or other unwanted information.
We drew on these principles, as well as the major themes of the series of columns on collaboration, when designing
When creating a new document, use a new shell.
Many of the difficulties with metadata occur when documents are modified and saved under a new name, but then fail to lose their prior history. Even without a more sophisticated metadata solution, the practice of copying the core content of a document into a new document shell (preferably created from one of the organization's standard templates) helps cut off this old information. Other side benefits, such as reducing the number of unused styles or numbering list templates can also result from this technique.
The determination about what to clean from a document should be made at the firm-wide or company-wide level, and not be left to individual discretion.
This principle responds to at least two concerns. First, users should not be burdened to develop a personal understanding of the metadata issues. Many elements of metadata are quite technical, or at least divorced from everyday tasks of creating and editing documents. To expect the user community to master these issues and determine what steps are required to clean out metadata places imposes a great burden. Second, metadata cleanup should be performed consistently throughout the practice. From the perspective of law practice, this principle addresses whatever risk management concerns might be created by inconsistent, infrequent or haphazard metadata cleanup.
It should be possible to correct the metadata elements that directly indicate user identity to a firm- or company-wide standard on a continuous basis, without running a "cleanup macro" explicitly. A dynamic and continuously running solution is needed.
The October 20, 2000 article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, entitled, "Beware, 'Invisible Ink' Inside Computer Files May Reveal Your Secrets" described the metadata issue for a broad reading public. This article described how metadata identifying a document's author tied an accusatory series of e-mails to the staff of an opposing candidate. The metadata solution should enable all documents created by an organization to have empty values for the documents "Author" and related identifying properties, or to have standard values, such as the name of the firm.
The metadata solution should distinguish between documents that are internal, documents that are shared with "cooperators" and documents that are transmitted to "adversaries."
Many of the elements that we have discussed as metadata may be valuable, or even critical when a document is used inside an organization. For instance, in order to make an organization's styles, macros and AutoText specific to a type of document available, a document's attached template is likely to be a template other than normal.dot. It might be desirable, to facilitate efficiency of document creation and production, for the document template to have specific information about a client, and even be named for the client. When sent outside the organization, however, it may be undesirable or even harmful for the document to indicate this relationship.
The motto, "Don't Send, Publish" captures this issue. The best time for metadata cleanup occurs when a document needs to be delivered electronically to a person outside an organization. Teaching users to use special procedures to "publish" a clean copy of the internal version of a document when transmitting it outside is achievable. It is the electronic equivalent of the instructions to check to see that there are no pencil markings or notes on the paper document before copying it for distribution. In iScrub, we classify the cleanup procedure "Publish as Scrubbed Document" and provide users with a choice of "Cooperator" or "Adversary" to determine the appropriate level of cleanup.
As usual, we welcome your comments about Word of Law columns to Bob Blacksberg.
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