Oh, no - what will happen to my beloved Finder?

by Oliver Breidenbach

I recently stumbled upon this cool little tool: Onlife by Edison Thomaz. It records what you do and creates a journal of your activities. It stores information a lot like your brain: in chronological order. I love the idea. In fact, I think that is how computers should store and retrieve information in the first place. Death to the hierarchical file system! It is one piece of the puzzle of how computers of the future should work.

Update: I just love weblogging. Of course, someone out there is more knowledgable than me (Thanks, Robert!) and points me to the work of one David Gelernter and one Eric Freeman from the first half of the nineties called "Lifestreams". I am just starting to read up on it but I feel as if I have found the holy grail!


2006-04-05 07:12:12
> Death to the hierarchical file system! It is one piece of the puzzle of how computers of the future should work.

You probably don't develop software then.

Oliver Breidenbach
2006-04-05 08:02:53
Software developers are people with special needs. :-)

No need to make everybody else suffer for them, I think.

2006-04-06 22:37:53
Interesting topic. Too much to say in too small a space.

A major concern I have with hierarchical filesystems is how often they impose their file/folder storage structure as a primary method for organizing data. For one thing, I'd like the hierarchical layer to be abstracted from whatever the underlying storage layer uses. Apps like iTunes and iPhoto do that to some degree if you let them copy files into their own folder hierarchies as they choose, then organize the content using playlists and albums (with limited nested groups). That gives you freedom to organize and view items without being overly concerned about where they're actually stored.

The traditional style of "file management" is a rigid, tedious, location-dependent decision making process. Do create/copy/move/delete operations really need to be so strictly tied to the hierarchical storage of the filesystem? I'd rather not be forced to rely on that structure in order to organize and create different relationships between data objects.

Re: Onlife, which I stumbled upon a few months ago. Haven't tried it (or read the links in the article yet), but the "personal journal of computing activity" concept is intriguing. I can't count how many times I've wanted to something like "show me a summary of what I was doing last Thursday". Heck, or just remind myself what I was working on yesterday. :-) So, I'd welcome a system that's sophisticated enough to automatically keep a more thorough personal activity history than I could ever hope to do manually.