Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th Jun 2012 22:55 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes "Whenever there is a conversation about the future of computing, is discussion inevitably turns to the notion of a 'File'. After all, most tablets and phones don't show the user anything that resembles a file, only Apps that contain their own content, tucked away inside their own opaque storage structure. This is wrong. Files are abstraction layers around content that are necessary for interoperability. Without the notion of a File or other similar shared content abstraction, the ability to use different applications with the same information grinds to a halt, which hampers innovation and user experience." Aside from the fact that a file manager for Android is just a click away, and aside from the fact that Android's share menu addresses many of these concerns, his point still stands: files are not an outdated, archaic concept. One of my biggest gripes with iOS is just how user-hostile the operating system it when it comes to getting stuff - whatever stuff - to and from the device.
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I wouldn't deny the benefit of tagging/meta data. For sure, it's definitely a useful means of working with files. However one should not assume that metadata and directory hierarchies are mutually exclusive, they are not. A lot of the file-systems-are-bad posts may be wrongly assuming that they are. There's no reason one can't have both at the same time.

A hierarchy is a natural way of organising and keeping related things together. It's why we have things like bookmark folders, email folders - these weren't invented for the computer's sake but for the direct benefit of users to be able to organise their stuff. It gives a kind of "spatial" locality to an otherwise chaotic pile containing everything. Hierarchical organisation isn't something we invented for computers either, but is something we learn to do at a very young age. When we go to school, we have subject-specific folders and notebooks, which is better than keeping everything in one big pile - meta tags or not. Directories offer a clean/logical separation of things that don't belong together, that's hard to express with tags alone.

There may come a time when school students go all digital, hopefully they'll have access to a platform that allows them to organise things in a way which is most suitable without being locked into a dogmatic paradigm.

Let's not write off hierarchies as a useful organisational tool, ok?

Note: I treat "file" as a synonymous term for "content", they mean the same thing as far as what we're talking about.

Edited 2012-06-30 09:39 UTC

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