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On Blocks and the Future of Collaboration and Productivity

Virtual LEGOS and more collaborative documents will make Google Docs look quaint by comparison.
Oct | 21 | 2021

Oct | 21 | 2021

In 2014, I overhauled my website. I saw the promise of visual editors like Divi by Elegant Themes and went all-in. Since that time, it has served as my WordPress theme—and I have stayed with it despite a few bumps along the way. I’m wise enough to know that software isn’t perfect.

As a constant tweaker (no, not the meth kind), Divi just made sense for me. Here’s a screenshot of this post:

Note the block-based nature of the Divi Builder. Adding text and video, changing column structure, and creating reusable elements requires zero coding knowledge.1 #foreshadowing

Fast-forward to 2021

Today modular website themes are all the rage. (As of now, Elegant Themes sports more than 800,000 customers.) Even WordPress has doubled down on block editors, although plenty of folks hate Gutenberg.

And websites aren’t the only tools that are in the early innings of a design revolution. Notion, Coda, Airtable, Smartsheet, Monday, Zapier, and other applications have one thing in common: they are challenging longstanding ideas behind traditional documents or spreadsheets. For more on Coda, give this pod with its head honcho Shishir Mehrotra a proper listen:

Notion's valuation, as of October 11, 2021.

It’s a particularly exciting time for companies reimagining traditional documents.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how collaboration and productivity tools evolve. At a minimum and as I’ve said more times than I can count, expect much deeper integration among previously disconnected workplace applications.

As the dynamic Mehrotra mentions during the podcast, employee resistance to change remains a formidable obstacle. (If I only had a nickel for every person who fought me on using Slack, Microsoft Teams, or another internal collaboration hub …)

Stragglers aside, though, it’s a particularly exciting time for these two groups:

  • Companies reimagining the very ideas behind traditional word-processing, spreadsheet, task-management, and content-creation software.
  • Progressive people, groups, and organizations willing to embrace new tools.

I’ll be chirping about this subject much more in the months ahead.

Simon Says

The notion of e-mailing attachments back and forth seems more absurd than ever.


What say you?


  1. That’s not to say that you can’t go nuts with your own JavaScript, JQuery, CSS, HTML, and more.


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