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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RE[3]: Not mutually exclusive
by galvanash on Thu 26th Jul 2012 07:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not mutually exclusive"
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

I disagree, when speaking about the *concept* of a directory, it's pretty close to how people already organise things in the real world.


Sure its close - I'm not denying that. It is a good analog even. It has served well for for the last 30 years or so and still does. But it does have complexities, and many of them shatter the analogy. Sure, none of this is a show stopper - most people figure it out if they are inclined to bother.

An office can have file cabinets, labelled drawers, labelled files, individual documents in the files. A disk directory is a very good representation of these abstractions, and I dare say anyone already familiar with the physical equivalents would automatically be comfortable with an identically structured disk directory. Do you really think otherwise?


Yes actually. I think that for your average user, a filing cabinet is where you put things you never need, a drawer is where you put things you rarely need. The things you use all the time you put on top of your desk or in arms reach at least - you keep them close by, not hidden away.

Computers are really really good for a particular thing, in fact I think that this is their primary reason for existence: they are good at finding things almost instantly if you can tell them enough about the thing to make it distinct from all the other things. Computers are essentially information retrieval devices, and yet we use them as if they are filing cabinets (opening up folders, looking for things...)? Does that make sense to you?

Even without any of those "features" you brought up, directories still have an undeniably useful role in allowing users to organise files.


But they don't. Not really. The do have an undeniably useful role in allowing computers to organize files, but for users? They are just one way of skinning the cat.

All a directory path is is a unique identifier into a block storage space - it is an index. It is THE index. For the computer they are critically important. But all it tells users is where things are in an imaginary hierarchical space that in reality does not exist.

I dont' want to have to remember where things are... If I know what I am looking for, or when I made it, or who gave it to me, or what I made it with, I can find it quite easily. All directories really do is hide things from my eyes.

I am not, btw, arguing for the elimination of hierarchical file systems at all. What I am saying is that if the computer can show you what you need, when you need it, you don't actually need to make the hierarchy visible to users. The don't in fact need it for normal day to day stuff. It can be like a filing cabinet - the place you put stuff you only need in a crisis (i.e. backups).

A system that largely eliminates the need to manage and orginize files is imo a good thing. It is doable. It is not dumbification. It is arguably better for most people. Maybe not everyone, but certainly many. It is at least worth trying. I'm still waiting for someone to build one that works though ;)

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