Wie wir Informationen finden

Hier zitiere ich einen Kommentar von mir im Blog von Mark Shuttleworth. Es geht darum, wie wir Informationen finden und wiederfinden, egal ob Bücher, Zettel oder Dateien auf unserem Computer.

Let me propose a short analysis of file and information handling. Before I start, I’d like to thank Fran, Jason McMullan, ethana2 and Endolith for their very insightful comments. All of what they said needs to be taken into consideration!

So, the main goal is: I want to be able to find any kind of file or information stored on my computer with as little knowledge about the file as possible (I tend to forget things). The standard file system approach has its good and bad points, and the same goes for version-based or semantic systems. What makes them different, is the “dimension” used to sort the information.

I think there are 4 main dimensions of sorting information or files:

1. Content (semantic)
Information can be sorted in categories, tags, file types, size, lenght etc. The content can also be searched, e.g. as full text, music or video pattern.

2. Time (version-managed)
Different sorting criterias are time of creation, change (name/content) and touch (opened/sent, “recently used” etc). Other useful features of version management are “undo” and full automatic background saving/backup.

3. Location (classic file system)
Classic folder-file system, “most used”/”most visited”. The big reason why I think it would be a real mistake to abandon it is this: it robs the user of one path to the file he or she is looking for. Ever tried to find an interesting book at home, but forgot the title? You remembered it was on the shelf in the living room, bottom right. I tend to remember file locations sometimes, and forget the name.

4. Author
Who sent the file, who created it, did I send it to someone? Also: rights management.

In my opinion, a sophisticated yet extremly simple to use (Apple-like) file management should offer the user every possible way to find the file. Therefore, any solution should include all sorting dimensions above. Also, I think disposing of the “desktop” idea is wrong, because humans tend to think in such “real-world” terms, including location and spatial relation of things. Maybe that’s why the current system is so widely used? Still, there’s no reason to ignore the benefits of adding search/find dimensions such as content, time and author. After all, they are already implemented, just not very well.