Strange as it may seem to older generations of computer users who grew up maintaining an elaborate collection of nested subfolders, thanks to powerful search functions now being the default in operating systems, as well as the way phones and tablets obfuscate their file structure, and cloud storage, high school graduates don’t see their hard drives the same way.
As anyone who has had to sift through a relative’s landfill organization technique can attest, most people shouldn’t be in charge of organizing their files. The machine should sort files based on metadata about the file, and people can select options and provide search criteria to filter the data. We’re power users here, but even I rely on
ripgrep quite often.
I guess this most surprising part is this is surprising. Computing is application focused. People open MS Office Word, Apple Pages, or LibreOffice Writer; they don’t open a file. Operating systems don’t have pluggable extensions which let people manipulate various file types; they have applications which run on them.
On top of that, files and folders are a meta-construct so humans can grok filesystem semantics and, ultimately, blocks on a storage device.
Filing systems or data organisation is a big topic in itself. Back in the day when systems used to be paper based this really was a thing and some experts made a lot of money reorganising corporate systems. Whether it is paper based or via computers it’s all just a way of arranging things so someone can mentally imagine where they are in the mess and find what they want to find whether directly or by providing cues and minimising the number of steps to finding it.
I maintain an updated index for some data broken down by categories. I tend to organise my data into “buckets”and then break it down. Some data will fit neatly into the file system structure. For more detailed things especially data gathered from multiple sources around a topic where the data is messy it can fit into more than one category which gets difficult. Some freeform data which most of it is can be very difficult to keyword search as meaning versus the words or phraseology can be very different. Some data is in video format which adds another layer of difficulty. Other data obtained for legal reasons can be entire websites which have been downloaded. Data at any level may have to be summarisd or interpreted which is yet more data which needs to be organised and indexed.
Most people are probably not aware that in many court cases a body of evidence presented in court is not read through from end to end by the judge. For some cases they simply glance through the index and examine the titles maybe skimming one or two on the way. Another thing people will miss is that people can rely on the weight given to them as an authority and that the index of evidence presented may be presented in a favourable way. This can have a skewing effect on both the reaction of legal representation and the final judgment. And this is precisely why large and usually well funded lawyers acting on behalf of the state or a large organisation take care this is the view that the court is presented with. Of course, it all falls apart if you know their data better than they do and start pointing out to the judge the things they don’t want the judge to know.
Years ago a senior manager once came to me and said there had been a particular job which needed doing. They said it couldn’t be done but said to their boss they would take on the challenge. Having just indexed 20,000+ documents they came to ask me if I knew where a certain document for a certain year was. I had them arranged in my own head and after sifting through the index in my own head told them I could find that document. The look on their face was one of disbelief and they scoffed. I was a bit unsure but knew it was in one of two places so led them to the document room which at the time was the size of three times the size of the office spaces so its area was roughly the size of a small house. Five minutes later I pulled out the document they had been looking for. They had volunteered for the none trivial task of computerising and providing a system to analyse this data on the basis they believed it wouldn’t be found so they now had a large job on their hands. I never did get thanked for this.
“Most people shouldn’t be allowed to touch their filesystems.”
Quite a radical view, I am having a hard time which branch of neo-fascism should we categorize it under?