Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 28th Apr 2008 21:38 UTC, submitted by kiddo
Graphics, User Interfaces The trash can metaphor in computing is as old as the desktop metaphor itself. It was first introduced with the Apple Lisa user interface, and found its way to the Macintosh. Apple patented the whole idea, and sued anyone who tried to use the same name, resulting in other user interfaces implementing the exact same principle but just named differently. Despite its old age, and the fact it barely changed over the decades, many people have issues with the traditional concept.
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trash can - useless and drives to negligence
by l3v1 on Tue 29th Apr 2008 06:35 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, well, the good old trash can story. In my world, the trash can is a stupid idea. Why ? If you need something, don't delete it, if you have the tiniest hunch that one day you'll might need it then store it, backup it, save it for later days, and after backup, if there's no immediate need for it, then you might think about deletion. Hard drives are cheap, dvds are cheap. In my book there's no such thing as accidental deletion, there's only carelessness and stupidity. Hit me if you wish, I can take the punch.

I never used the trash/recycle bin/whatever, I always disable it if possible. I never in my life have lost or deleted anything I later wished I didn't. It's not a big deal actually to get used to think twice about your files. I managed to drive my non-techie sister to behave by this rule and since her 9+ years of computer use she never ever complained about deleting something "accidentally". Although I'm managing her backups, still, it's working.

In my profession it's imperative that I don't loose my files and data [research results, sometimes data coming from really long work, articles, and so on] yet I still need to find any real use for that trash/recycle bin thing. Oh, and "managing" the trash can, well, I find that whole concept a waste of time and resources.

Reply Score: 4

mono Member since:
2005-10-19

I fully agree with you. I always disable the Trash can (it's possible on Mac OS X as well with a little trick - make the trash point to /dev/null).

I think the problem comes from the idea that the desktop metaphore must be similiar to real life examples: The Trash can must be there to trash your stuff. But imho the computer interfaces are already too abstract. Creating analogies just makes it more confusing. Users already learnt a lot of abstract stuff from the graphical interfaces.
Anyway.. in real life you put something into the trash because you don't need it (there has to be an object where you collect your garbage because you can't delete it / you can't make it disappear and it's a really big problem in the world because there are too much garbage) - and there is an option that you can take it back but it's not really common - at least in my life.
In the graphical user interface it's totally different. I'm sure MOST users delete those files they don't need at all. If the Trash can was really Apple's idea then it was a very big mistake. People got used to it and it will be very hard to break this habit.

Reply Parent Score: 2