It remains somewhat amazing to me that governments and major international institutions so frequently forget what it means to distribute documents in Word format. In particular, people are surprisingly ignorant of how Word tracks changes: making documents into a palimpsest of revisions, not all of which you want the outside world to see. You don’t want the comment about how pointless one of the ‘key items’ in your ‘corporate vision’ is making it into the file that gets passed to the New York Times. Even the early copy of the Summary for Policymakers of the 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC that I have includes a few notes about edits that still need to be done.
Hopefully, closed standards like Word documents will fall by the wayside during the next decade or so. It is insane to be distributing so much information in a proprietary format for no good reason (just one more manifestation of monopolistic dominance). Hopefully, whichever open document format eventually comes to be standard will have better means for assessing and controlling what information you are inadvertantly embedding in your press releases, reports, spreadsheets, etc. Until then, lax security is likely to keep offering some interesting glances into the drafting processes of such publicized documents.
PS. One other thing to remember is that the standard jpg images produced by Adobe Photoshop include thumbnail files that are not edited when you change the image. As such, a face blurred out of the large version may still be recognizable in the embedded thumbnail version. The same goes for areas that may have been cropped from the image entirely. I am sure Cat Schwartz isn’t the only person who has suffered public embarassment because of this. No doubt, many other pieces of software include such counter intuitive and potentially problematic behaviours.