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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galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

I'm going to extrapolate what you're saying to the real world. Basically you think that nothing should be organized a long as it tagged labelled, which basically amounts to a massive wall of documents covered in post-it notes labeling the various pages with strings showing connecting all the related documents. Those kinds of rooms are the rooms of crazy people.

All information in the world is organized in hierarchies simply because it would be too distracting to shove all information everywhere at a person.


Ugh.. Im not opposed to hierarchies. Im just saying your computer and its applications can do a much better job of defining them than you can. LET IT.

Hierarchies are great for browsing lots of things. So use them for that - the system can define them for you (by size, by types, by arbitrary metadata, whatever). The thing that is wrong about directories (from a UI perspective) is that they are location specific taxonomy, and they are exclusive. It is an artificial limitation - it is taking power away from you and making you waste braincells.

We even have stupid workarounds, like symbolic links, complicated things that serve no real purpose other than a UI crutch. They shouldn't be necessary - the only reason that they exist is because we use hierarchies as the primary means of organized storage. We all concern ourselves with something that in reality doesn't even matter - "where is my file?". Why the hell should it matter where your file is - what matters is if you can get to it easily when you need to.

Im just saying why not let your computer keep things organized for you? That way you can, I don't know, go do real work.

Edited 2012-07-26 16:13 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

galvanash,

"The thing that is wrong about directories (from a UI perspective) is that they are location specific taxonomy, and they are exclusive. It is an artificial limitation - it is taking power away from you and making you waste braincells."

Oh you are hopeless, maybe this will help: DIRECTORIES ARE NOT EXCLUSIVE TO TAGGING AND METADATA!!! You seem to be wilfully ignorant of this fact and every single one of your arguments thus far has relied upon that ignorance to make a case in favour of metadata and against directories. You prefer tagging, fine, however you don't speak for me or anyone else. The big pile approach is a regression for millions of users and professionals. It's an arbitrary decree that computers shouldn't enable us to organise our digital files as we would in the physical world, all because you can't spare the brain power.


"Im just saying why not let your computer keep things organized for you? That way you can, I don't know, go do real work."

To the extent that works, then sure, but nobody here has argued against that.

Read DeadFishMan's post:
http://www.osnews.com/thread?528371

If a user uses a device to download music and movies, then metatags should work great. No user brain cells wasted here. Though it is still not an argument against *allowing* for directories. Permitting both is a simple solution that works for everyone, there's no reason to get authoritarian over how other users choose to work.

Edited 2012-07-26 17:27 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

jigzat Member since:
2008-10-30

Yeah I know, Einstein said once that he never learned by memory any telephone number because brain connections are scarce, that's what telephone guides are for.

Reply Parent Score: 1

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Oh you are hopeless, maybe this will help: DIRECTORIES ARE NOT EXCLUSIVE TO TAGGING AND METADATA!!!


For the 2nd time - I know that already.

How do applications access files? By directory path. Its baked into the file system. Its baked into the APIs. Its very, very hard to change. The point is you don't have to change it - you just have to make it difficult for users to muck up.

If you build a system that is designed to manage the taxonomy of files with metadata, and build applications that are designed to use this taxonomy to access the files, how do you maintain system integrity when uses can just willy nilly change the primary key of a file behind the systems back? Sure, you could use some sort of other metadata and graft it on top and let the system use that instead of the primary key - but that is horribly inefficient...

You end up with a system where only the user really knows how to find anything - the system has to do all searching because it cannot establish any meaningful rules as to where things should be put. We have that now - it sucks. Every hard drive looks different. Things are invariably a mess. Sure, you can find your stuff - but no one else can.

Im sorry but it is not as simple as grafting on metadata. We have already done that - its been done for years. It hasn't worked, because it is not a fundamental change - the primary mechanism for accessing files is still by directory path, and we let users play with it to their hearts content.

Look, there are compromises that can be made - I get that. But I am trying to convince you that you don't need directories, not that you can't have them. Hierarchal storage is efficient. It works. There is no need at all to get rid of it. What is needed is to make it impossible for inexperienced users to break system defined storage hierarchies, once you do that the number of interface paradigms you can use to present things to users drastically increases, because from the computers point of view things stay where they are put.

If you graft some form of hierarchial metadata (which can be easily done with simple tags) onto the filesystem to let user organize things for their own purposes, that is perfectly fine. But it shouldn't be the primary key!

A system admin or developer need not worry about what I am describing. File systems will more than likely always offer hierarchal storage - but you don't need to actually expose that to your average user at all. In fact, what I am saying is that it is counter-productive to do that - it creates an insurmountable obstacle to improving the status quo. You cannot reliably create a system like I am describing if you let users muck with the primary keys...

WHERE things should be stored should be left up to the system. User file organization and and the primary access mechanism for files are two completely orthogonal concepts. THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER! The first is a completely arbitrary concept that matters to know one but the user, the 2nd is quite the opposite.

Reply Parent Score: 2