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 real issues here
by zcal on Fri 27th Jul 2012 05:07 UTC
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Please don't take this as me advocating against the use of folder hierarchies (I think a combination folder/metadata tags approach is best), but there are at least two very real problems that they cause for end users.

1. Sharing documents with others via folder hierarchies alone absolutely sucks.

I deal with this problem every day at work. Unless those involved can agree on the specific document types they will be adding to the folders, and thus the specific folder categories that they need, they will always lose things. This is due to the simple fact that personal information management strategies are almost never the same, and placing things into location-based categorical hierarchies means that user x has to navigate exactly to where user y put a document if he wants to retrieve it. If he ever finds the document, he makes a copy of it to keep in his own folder structure because he doesn't trust that he'll be able to locate it again. Now there are two documents to update and keep in sync. Ugh.

2. Computers necessitate that ordinarily unstructured information be worked into a hierarchy.

Multiple studies have been done on information workers, even before the proliferation of desktop computers, that illustrate the need to create information by taking notes, etc., but not necessarily needing to keep that information. In fact, there is much evidence to suggest that it's simply the act of taking notes that helps people process and digest information, but that in the case of information workers notes are rarely referenced after they're taken. They're kept, sure, but in relatively unorganized piles. They're very rarely ever filed. But, computers require that the user make a decision as to where to put this type of ephemeral information. That's pointless. And, after a while it creates a mess in the personal file hierarchy. Eventually, users will feel compelled to clean up and reorganize. That's a waste of time.

Edited 2012-07-27 05:09 UTC

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