Thinking in Filesystems

09 June 2004

Since the latest Gnome Nautilus upgrade and its change to a spatial navigation, I've read glimpses of discussion about users working better when they don't need to think about filesystems.

From the day I first saw the spatial Nautilus screenshots, I thought to myself, isn't this sort of how old MS Windows showed us stuff? It looks like cluttered piles of overlapping windows. There must be more to it than seeing piles of overlapping "objects" representing directories. I was so relieved when I found tree-based views in various file managers -- it flattened the view and made it quicker to navigate anywhere.

The other thing I don't quite get yet is how I could not think in filesystems and directory structures. Maybe I've just been doing things the "computer way" for too long and can't think "human". Organizing my data in hierarchies and having control of what applications I use (not just magically start), and where they find their data just makes sense to me. It also seems awfully presumptuous that someone else could provide integrated applications that do everything I want the way I want every time (in reference to apps seemlessly starting others to introduce this computing bliss).

I've actually made a point of firing up Nautilus every once in a while just to see if I'll "get it". RhythmBox is another application that's trying to eliminate the filesystem dependency, but I like Unix and filesystems, so now it's making it difficult to find my music by my filesystem-based organization.

Disclaimer: I use vi in Linux (and Windows) to code J2EE applications -- I have a certain level of comfort with bare-metal, unguided access to complexity.

Filed Under: Computers Linux Technology