Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jul 2012 22:18 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes The article I'm about to link to, by Oliver Reichenstein, is pretty terrible, but it's a good way for me to bring up something I've been meaning to talk about. First, the article: "Apple has been working on its file system and with iOS it had almost killed the concept of folders - before reintroducing them with a peculiar restriction: only one level! With Mountain Lion it brings its one folder level logic to OSX. What could be the reason for such a restrictive measure?" So, where does this crusade against directory structures (not file systems, as the article aggravatingly keeps stating) come from?
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The debate that will never end...
by galvanash on Thu 26th Jul 2012 03:45 UTC
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

This isn't about file systems or hierarchical directory management. It isn't about limiting nesting to one folder. It isn't about vendor locking either. Thom, you are missing the point entirely.

The most profound thing you wrote in your article was this:

Emailing files to get them on devices? Seriously?


Yes. Seriously.

Geeks will rant and rage, but facts are facts. People use email, yes EMAIL to store files. Not dumb people, and not a few of them. LOTS of them. They do this on purpose. Microsoft found this behavior was overwhelmingly common when they researched user behavior, and Apple (as they always do) came to roughly the same conclusions doing whatever voodoo they do internally. Ask any corporate email admin - they fight with this constantly...

Why? Because they discovered, through their own personal experience, that it is the easiest and most reliable way to make sure they can find the file when they need it, regardless of what computer they are on or where they are.

Email uses completely different semantics for finding things... The primary attributes are different.

File systems are all about "where" things are. You can of course augment things with searches, metadata, whatever, but its all about location, location, location. Where is the heart of the matter, and no amount of metadata can really change that.

Email has no "where". It doesn't matter. There is only "who", "what", and "when". Email allows one to blissfully ignore where they put things... Everything in just "in their email".

So what is it about email, considering how bad all us geeks know it really is as a file storage system, that makes people use it anyway?

1. Its gloriously flat.
2. It has extremely rich metadata.
3. It is primarily organized by ownership and chronology, i.e. "who" and "when".
4. It is location independent.
5. It is platform independent.
6. It is device independent.
7. It is network accessible using a fundamental protocol that is supported by just about any device you can think of.

Cloud storage IS email. Its just email for file storage. Does it make sense to model a device independent internet storage service after a conventional file system? No. You model it after the thing that people are already using to do the same thing... Email.

ps. Yes, I know IMAP supports hierarchical folders. But the only people that use them are power users and geeks. Folders in email are, primarily, metadata that categorized things in an exclusive manner. Something may be in a folder, but the folder has a meaning attached to it. Almost no one organizes their email, because they simply don't need to...

ps.ps. Yes, I know ONE of you is going to reply declaring that I am completely wrong because you meticulously organize your email all the time... Please don't bother - I doubt I could fill a small stadium with the lot of you. Sorry, but your behavior is completely atypical.

ps.ps.ps. I'm not saying I like this trend by the way, I'm still on the fence myself. But I do see the rationale behind it - it isn't just "dumbing things down". I'm just saying you need to appreciate the argument for why they are moving file storage in this direction.

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