Thursday, August 10, 2006

Finally beyond hierarchical file systems (II)

But how do we (as persons) remember things? What is that connect our ideas and memories together and enables us to navigate so nicely throu them?

"When you try to remember something that happened in the past, what you do is try to reinstate your mental context from that event," said Norman. "If you can get yourself into the mindset that you were in during the event you're trying to remember, that will allow you to remember specific details. The techniques that we used in this study allow us to visualize from moment to moment how well subjects are recapturing their mindset from the original event."

[from: How Does Memory Work?]

Perhaps the key is this "context" idea... For example: maybe it is only me, but I like to open certain applications and folders, when I'm about to program on my current project. And if I'm working on more than one project at the same time (as I guess everyone does anyway) I try to open n differen sets of documents/folders/tools, each specific to its own project.

The fact that Linux Xwindows system provides a multiple-desktop is probably because other people work in this way.

Well, to me this looks very much like a link of context... So why is it not persistent?
(a friend of mine tells me that he has taken the abit of keep is office machine running, so he desn't need to re-open applications and windows each morning :> )
Not only it contextual information is volatile in nowadays desktops, but (unless you have a Mac and use the Automator) you cannot even make a script to reopen the windows and applications in one click... I even tried with .bat files and html, but they both suck, mostly because, sure, I can open a Windows program via a .bat, but it is impossible to decide its position and size on the desktop...

So what about a "context"-oriented desktop? How would it work?
Because it seems to me that tagging everything without a strategy, is just going to create a whole new level of chaos on top of my file-system...

Another think is: I usually remember a part of a text document as being relevant for something, therefore linked to some other part of another document.
Try to express something like that with a link in the Windows file system (or Unix)...

Partial "views" on documents, and links between views, are in my mind, other ingredients of a better desktop system (and possibly of a more easy to navigate file system).
Here there is a nice discussion about views and originals, and how a good management of both, can radically improve a company (or my desk, perhaps :D )

So: contexts, views and links between them.
(If I have time, I'd like to investigate more about these in the coming months)

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