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from the fact that Android's share menu addresses many of these concerns, his point still stands: files are not an outdated, archaic concept.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.
Thread beginning with comment 524486
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Ted Nelson on files
by kovacm on Sat 30th Jun 2012 09:37 UTC
Member since:
RE: Ted Nelson on files
by tupp on Sat 30th Jun 2012 10:04 in reply to "Ted Nelson on files"
tupp Member since:

Thanks for linking the video.

He seems to spend a lot of time sounding annoyed with file hierarchies, and at the very last, he gives a brief, vague, hypothetical alternative to using files and directories (which actually sounds like merely breaking-up files into smaller files).

It certainly would be interesting to hear how exactly he would propose accomplish a complex task, such as shooting and editing a feature film, without the use of camera files and without a non-linear video editor application.

Edited 2012-06-30 10:10 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Ted Nelson on files
by henderson101 on Sat 30th Jun 2012 10:22 in reply to "RE: Ted Nelson on files"
henderson101 Member since:

It certainly would be interesting to hear how exactly he would propose accomplish a complex task, such as shooting and editing a feature film, without the use of camera files and without a non-linear video editor application.

If we go back to the iOS, you know, your original complaint target: things that make sense as being files are still files. What no one has is a hierarchical file system. You know what? I've edited 10 or more videos that use iMovie, Avid or Reeldirector on my iPhone and iPad. Never needed a file viewer past the camera integration and music library integration. The files all just appear in the right place. Learning curve is zero. This is what consumers really want, not complexity.

Equally, my mail, calendar and notes all appear in apps. There are no files. Why does there need to be?

This is the issue with the argument. Tech people assume that a file system is the best and only way to present logical blocks of data. It's not.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Ted Nelson on files
by jkloetzke on Sat 30th Jun 2012 11:30 in reply to "Ted Nelson on files"
jkloetzke Member since:

Nice video. I think he's hitting the nail on the head, although he's only giving a small hint at the end what could improve the situation.

The way how I see it is the following: every user has an intuitive idea what a file is. Ted calls it a "lump" and I tend to agree. From the users point of view a file is just a piece of information belonging together. May it be a calendar entry, note or a text document. What counts is that the user want's to manage this piece of information, that is share it, copy, delete, edit, you name it.

The real problem for the users start where he has to name these pieces of information to find it again. File systems as we know it have only one scheme: hierarchical with distinct file names. Even that alone brings many problems that I don't need to re-enumerate. But even more severely the file name is also the only way how to get back your information. If you forgot the file name or someone else renamed the file you won't get back your data again.

Now mail applications are typical examples how an application hides the inadequacies of regular file systems and provides you an interface which is much more suited to the problem domain. But even there every mail is typically a file but the underlying file system does a poor job to get this organized. So we really need file systems, just the traditional schemes suck.

I thought very long about it and I'm working now since three years on a project in my spare time which may provide an answer these issues: Right now the focus is more on regular file access and synchronization but it has all the building blocks that Ted describes at the end of his video: a system where you can address and store small lumps which can be arbitrarily connected and the support to track the history of these pieces and make these changes addressable too. If PeerDrive really works remains to be seen but working on it has been a lot of a fun until now... ;-)

Reply Parent Score: 1