[Sugar-devel] [IAEP] Article on "Why files need to die"
martin at martindengler.com
Sun Jul 17 09:49:12 EDT 2011
On Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 11:54:40AM +0200, Christoph Derndorfer wrote:
> Please also see this article (
> http://blogs.gnome.org/mccann/2011/06/08/new-pony/) which Tomeu Vizoso (one
> of the early Sugar developers) just shared on Google+, well worth a
The article offers no solution that avoids the problem of naming and
organising documents. It ends with "other people are setting up
clouds, where's ours?", which doesn't seem very relevant to
educational software in an intermittently connected world like the one
I think we're targeting.
The words privacy, security, or control do not appear in the article.
The article is good insofar as it lays out one avenue of improvement:
we need to take advantage of new connectivity options and improve the
user interfaces for the information which is often or hard to manage
But would our computers be useful for learning, writing, reading, or
playing if the only user interface was like Facebook or iTunes?
We (this audience, and others like GNOME) are in danger of being
distracted by the current limitations of moving audio-visual data
around into thinking that our conversations, thoughts, and stories
don't deserve designers' time, or can be managed in the same simple
ways. At their essence this information is neither audio nor visual;
it is textual (for practical, useful definitions of "essence"). And
their labels (meta-data) are the same.
Sure, these things can be compressed or expressed in different forms.
But they cannot be easily used, or separated easily from context (what
the original article's author found so terrible), without the control
that the cloud takes away or the simplicity of the written word.
We are at risk of sacrificing clarity and simplicity of expression so
that Facebook or Apple or Google can sell us ads for the Kabbalah,
mormonism, or DVDs. That is, if what what google.com and bing.com
suggest when I search for 'the meaning of life' is any indication.
Speaking of which, I'll finish this postscript after I watch the
Meaning of Life...
1. Even after the author has narrowed the scope of the "file problem"
three times to Document, then to MS-Office-type document, then to
document one never needs to move outside of the cloud, he still
doesn't say anything about how this fixes "file management" (which I
infer he thinks of as naming, organising, and sharing.
2. One of the commenters basically said the author and other are
getting distracted into re-creating "appliances" rather than designing
for "general purpose computers"; rather than helping people manage the
information they generate or manage mostly unconsciously now, it seems
a big inferiority complex is being fed, since Facebook is so good and
iCloud will make sure your documents (whose naming is never discussed)
can appear on all your devices. Which is almost never useful unless
you a) have always-on, low latency connections; and b) have a large
amount of bandwidth; and c) never need to do anything with the
information except look at it onscreen or what the cloud provider lets
you do with it.
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