What is a document?

Subject: What is a document?
From: Jeroen Hendrix <jhe -at- POLYDOC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 16:44:17 +0100

A question for al you wise folks,

I know some of you won't find this an important or even interesting issue,
but it exists here at my place. In our Q&A program, the process of
documentation is described as well. Part of the Q&A exercises is to define
corporate terms. In the terms and definition list, the following definition
of the term *document* came up:

Document: A medium and the data recorded on it for human use. By
extension, any record that has permanence and can be read by man or

To me, this definition is unworkable. It is vague, everything can be
interpreted as a document by this definition, even a file, a video cassette
or credit card. Now the trouble is to come up with something better. To me
a document is an information carrier, with contents that can be read and
interpreted by humans. Machines don't read documents, but data. Can
anyone out there think of a better definition? Or tell me what you use in
your workplace?

Your help is much appreciated,

Jeroen Hendrix
the Netherlands

Mail to: jhe -at- polydoc -dot- com
Web: www.polydoc.com

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