Ming the Mechanic:
End of Data Hierarchy

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 End of Data Hierarchy2003-01-20 15:43
6 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

Charles Miller:
"I no longer want to know where my files are stored. I no longer care. I have hordes of directories on my various computers called stuff, downloads and documents, and the effort that it would take to organise them into a proper heirarchy is just not worth it. The heirarchical filesystem is a really wonderful thing for programmers and websites, but it just doesn't cut it for personal use. I no longer care where my files are stored."
Leslie Michael Orchard:
"I'll be burned at the next stake over from Charles when the time comes, for this filesystem heresy. Just the other night, a co-worker was asking me about how diligent I was in organizing my email. I told her, "Not at all. I leave it all in one pile and then run the Find command on it later." She was shocked that I, alpha geek and info freako, didn't have some intricate taxonomy of folders into which mail was sorted by carefully crafted filters.

Here's what I want to see: Storage without explicit organization, but with super-rich metadata for super-fast searches. Allow me to create views made from persistent searches - my "project folder" is simply a collection of resources tied together by a common tag, one of many. And, if I want to form a project hierarchy, make my persistent searches into file objects too. The main thing in all this, though, is that it be woven very deeply within the OS. I don't want a helper app. I want this to replace the standard metaphor completely."
Yep, I think that's what I want too. The thing is that the world we live in is no longer hierarchical. Any piece of information fits into a bunch of different structures in different ways, depending on what I'm trying to do. If I go and drop the item in a file in a folder in a filing cabinet, in the place that seems logical at the time, chances are I won't find it next time I'm looking for it. So, yes, maybe there is no good way of easily storing it multi-dimensionally. Maybe the best is to store some concise information about the information (which is called metadata), such as date, person, relations to projects, interests, etc. and then leave it up to an efficient search engine to find things by those keys later on.


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