I've spent the past few weeks filling out job applications (and am still available, if anyone in the Flint area is hiring), and it's become rather annoying. Filling out the same information over and over is tedious and time consuming (I'm averaging 1/2 hr for short apps, 1 hr for the most exhaustive
MS Passport was designed to hold certain info, so that one could simply type in one's password once and be logged in to all of the passport sites (and also so MS could permeate the internet that much more, etc etc.)
It should not be too hard to modify this program so that it contains your name, contact info, addresses and info for education/employment/references, and everything else required. Ideally, this program would automatically enter data under each heading based on parameters you set. You'd be able to edit the final layout with resizeable text boxes and standard word-processing stuff. The database would be very customizeable, and similar to a standard database, so that you could add and subtract fields. One important feature not comon to most database programs would be the ability to have multiple "headings" for each field, and headings for combinations of fields. This would allow my first name to be auto-entered under "first", "name: first", "first name", and so on and so forth. It would also allow both the first and last-name fields to be put in a field labeled simply "name". And, of course, this program, along with the information it holds, would be PC-based, rather than stored on the internet.
The remaining problem is how to get computer-based data on to "hard-copy" applications. This should be a fairly simple matter as most scanners (all 1 of the scanners I've used, anyway) come with software which allows for text-recognition. This could be modified so that the software also recognizes the bounds for each data field. Use this to create a picture of each page of the app, with aforementioned text boxes super-imposed over the approprate entry fields.
Not only would this make filling out applications much faster and less mind-numbing, it would also be easily extendable to any other forms. The big problems i see are that a) scanning is also time-comsuming, b) this program would only be useful for someone with a scanner and printer, in addition to typical computer i/o devices.