It looks like Apple is finally going to start making serious changes to the way we interact with the file system. Which is to say, they already have in the case of music and photos, where you have subsets and filters of a "library", as opposed to folders. But now it sounds like they're taking it to the next level.
Strangely enough, I wrote about this kind of file system back in 1997, and I occasionally get email from people who are implementing the ideas. I started writing a much-updated account of what the "Liquid File System" might loook like a little while ago, but got distracted by something or other. The angle for the new article was going to be that OS interface design has stagnated, and that slapping a web interface on the file system didn't really help anything.
Anyway, what I imagined in the new, faster processor reality, was an interface where a number of preset filters could be applied to a "library" of information - emails, files, photos, etc. along with their associated metadata.
So you'd have a one-window interface with a the full library in one column, and various filters in the left column. These could be things like "updated in the last 2 days", "name contains '[a keyword]'", files type, and so on. So I could click on the first filter and immediately limit the view to files updated in the last few days. Then I could click on the "images" filter to show only the images that had been updated in the last few days, and if I still didn't have what I wanted, I could filter by the contents of the name, which OS X already does.
The point is, even with just the most basic metadata that is already available in the file system... and it's a very powerful way to deal with data.
It gets better when you add functions like Apple is apparently adding, like creating relationships between files (I remember talking to Hans Speijer about this back in 1998--he had a lot of similar ideas, but was specifically into connecting files to each other--when I tried to convince Be to use something like the Liquid File System in their OS... but they didn't seem keen on taking strategic advice from a 17 year-old non-programmer for some reason).
Another possibility would be for the OS to notice which files you use in the same session, and create a fuzzy list of related files in a third column, which could be promoted to 'related file' status, or dropped off the list.
Also, rather than having folders, setting up categories in the left column as filters would be interesting (and along the lines of the original LFS proposal). Clicking on the category would constrain the current view to members of that category, but dragging a file or files onto the category would add that category to their metadata.
Obviously, custom search constraints could be created based on what was most useful. The technology is actually already there. OS X is supposed to do this (though I just tried it and got an error), though you can't combine them.
I'm mostly happy that I'll get to use this system sometime in the near future, instead of just talking about it. (I had a similar experience when voodoopad came out, it being similar to another 1998 idea, notespace.)
I've been advocating for years for someone to create a hypertext notepad (see notespace), but it seemed that my pleas for such a simple program were falling on deaf ears--or at least ears that were busy with other things.
VoodooPad, which is exactly what I was hoping for. You're presented with a straightforward, bare bones note pad interface, but you can type a bit of text, click on a 'link' button, and you've got a new page, automatically linked from the first one. Like a wiki, except without the clunkiness of the web interface.
If that wasn't cool enough (yes, it's dead simple, but no one did it for so long!), it appears to be capable of exporting any collection of hypertext pages as html, xml, word, or whatever, and even promises to get along with actual wikis.
Now, whenever I come across a scrap of text that I want to store, I don't have to create a new file (cumbersome), post it to the weblog (slow), or use stickies (argh!)... I can just type a title into VoodooPad, click on 'link', and paste.
A new level of fulfillment of my personal hypertext needs has arrived. Now, if I can avoid reading about politics for a few more hours, it'll be a great day.
Update: in my giddy enthusiasm, I didn't even notice that VoodooPad can interface directly with VPWiki (a wiki set up to be used with VP), and it plays well with the MacOS X file system: drag a file or folder onto the pad, and it creates a link that opens that file. Excuse me while my mind explodes while contemplating the massive expanse of things that were possible to do before, but never so obviously easy.
This passive, no moving parts digital sundial is really neat.
...do major Operating System upgrades make your computer faster. I was hesitant to install Mac OS 10.3, but did it anyway. Cool features and a way more responsive system. Who'd've thought?
Steven Johnson offers explanations for why this is, and asks others to post theirs.
Google AdSense is an ad service for small publishers.
I've been seeing references to Vannevar Bush's 1945 essay about what would become hypertext, As We May Think. It's nice to see it popping up again, and since I was heavily influenced by it while in high school but haven't read it since, it's back on my reading list.
Another big influence and great source of ideas was Ted Nelson's Literary Machines, which, after being hard to find for a long time, is apparently back in print. Much of the book is now online as scanned images, but it uses "jfax" format, which seems a bit counterintuitive, but oh well.
Textpattern looks really good. Usable and pretty, by the looks of it.
In other news, I just realized that I've had a weblog in some form or other for about four years, and a web site for ten years now. Time has gone by.
Gong Szeto puts the Windows active desktop to good use by packing it full of updated webcam, satellite, and stock market images. It's neat. (via play with the machine)
I'm looking forward to playing with this, especially since it's in Python (my language of choice) and will be using RDF (my data representation of choice, at the moment).
Via laughingmeme, a neat CSS trick that works in browsers that fully support CSS1. Pretty.
Slashdot has added some interesting friend, foe and friend of a friend features. It'll be interesting to see if those can be tied into comment moderation.
The Estonian newspaper Päevaleht conducts web interviews with politicians using questions submitted by readers. (link is in Estonian)
Also, Estonian newspaper sites almost all allow easy comment posting on every article, and its not uncommon to see an article with 300 comments.
Some great configuration tips for folks who use Moveable Type, which is really quite good.
--Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia.
--NuPedia: The free encyclopedia (also!)
--Alternatives to Corporate Globalization from the philly imc. There's a wiki version somewhere, but I think it's hiding in beta.
--Potlatch.net A wiki based weblog.
--Journal of Electronic Publishing, August 2002