The file and folder metaphor

This week there was an interesting exchange about the so called file and folder metaphor. The whole change of view from the traditional method of storing files in folders in other folders and eventually cabinets.

The way that we concieve both files, folders, got already changed in the net thanks to companies like google vs yahoo. Using a unify stream of results and stop categorizing the results.

However the intersting part is to see how many people aims to take shot at this and then fail miserably. One of the very first was a show that I saw on TV back in college days. On a show called Big Thinkers with a Computer Scientist talking about the whole issue and instead wanted and envision of a stream of data. Without distinction between PDF, Email, Docs, Spreadsheets, etc.


The nice thing is that Youtube has that episode and I could watch it again and also learn more of his work which is really interesting including

However this reminds me of past failures such as:

  • Remember the semantic desktop on WinFS, GnomeFS, DashboardBeagle-Tracker?
  • Remember the end of the rectangular desktops with Pango/Cairo?
  • Or even the vectorial desktop

In the end it took way longer than expected even technologies like Btrfs on the filesystem, or the Enterprise Linux Video editor.

So what does that has to do with the file and folder metaphor? Well basically to identify the signs of failure about these paradigms. And how we can overcome those rules set to us and also recognize that the new workflow is not necesarily good thing.

I love linux and I am against the folder metaphor because is simple, you have grep, you have ls -l and grep so I can search for whatever, keywords, date, filename, extension you name it. If you will put me only on a secuencial condition or a priority condition or a advanced search condition, it will slow me down to a crawl.

Now I see a similar efect between the touch interface versus the keyboard. Now I need to move more muscles to perform half of the tasks. And you will be so far from touch developing that would be ridiculous.