Someone convince me this isn't part of companies desire to alienate users from the computers they use and reinforce the idea that nobody should own anything.

There is a difference between understanding file structure hierarchy and being lazy and using a massive downloads folder like I do and not understanding that files have a specific place in the first place.

@Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink It absolutely is! This is all because of that thumb-flicking, surveillance probe everyone's given before they even want it. Which is designed to do one thing and one thing only. There's no surprise one can't find a half-decent mobile application for file management. That is the primary device kids use, not a computer. They don't even refer to machines as computers anymore.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink I think this trend is more complicated.

On one hand, the specific form this is taking (hierarchical file structure -> search-driven laundry basket) is absolutely driven by specific companies wanting to make consumers more consumer-y, and in particular alienates them from the means of digital production.

On the other hand, the hierarchical file structure is not actually all that good, and this newer form is closer to the final form.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink The problem with hierarchical file structures is that, well, they're hierarchical.

I'm not entirely sure why we settled on the hierarchical system in the first place. I'm guessing it was a combo of trees having nice properties and the work culture of the mid-20th century.

Hierarchical systems have problems with non-hierarchical relationships

If I have a photo of my family at Christmas 2018, where do I put it? Family? Christmas? 2018? Christmas 2018?

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink What the newer generation is doing is breaking out of the rigid hierarchy of the old system. In my example, if they've tagged the photo with Family at Christmas 2018, then they can free text search for any of those things (or a time range via the EXIF data tagged on the photo), and boom: there's that photo.

No directories and files required. No remembering their self-specific organization scheme.

There's a lot of positive things about this system.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink That said, it's not the final form and the big companies are railroading people into an inferior, more complex version of this system.

The most obvious problem is that the app-based structure of phones is closing off the previously open and uniform structure of the filesystem, which is a huge step back.

This kind of separation isn't strictly bad either, a good variant of this would be a pod-based structure, with a common interface for data backups.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink As long as the big companies benefit from the complexity of their app-based system moving consumers toward using their cloud backups though, they aren't going to make any efforts to make this more consumer-friendly.

After all, they want people to use cloud backups and their sophisticated search algorithms, which make the whole mess manageable for the average consumer.


@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink The other issue, which is the real sticking point in the article, is that sometimes you need high a precision organization system, especially when you're doing real productive work.

The search system works great for the kind of associative memory use case of organizing photos, where your entry point might be thinking of old family photos or Christmas, or it might be scrolling back in time, but it's not so great for organizing a project.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink That said, the hierarchical file system isn't the be-all-end-all for the kind of precise organization either.

You can get the best of both worlds with a graph-based (or relational-based) system, which can be conceptualized in a file-compatible way as a tagging system.

In the photo example, you can tag it with all the different relevant tags, and then it's in all those tag-directories.

Meanwhile, if a strict hierarchy makes sense you can create one.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink One might ask: Isn't this just hard links?

Not really, as the file has a separate existence, and can be managed independently of the hard links. Like if you delete the file, it vanishes across the board (which, while possible with hard links, requires some special hoop-jumping).

It's also not a soft link, as there's no canonical location to which all the other links link to.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe @schlink The file exists in a giant heap of uniquely identified data, and you interact with it via domain-specific indexed views of the data.

Which...is exactly what the next generation of computer users are doing. After all, most apps use a database model to index their searches and make them fast and effective.

The problem isn't the new paradigm that's forming, it's the deliberate closing off of the system by those with the power to do so.


Thank you for the well thought out response!

I have thought a bit about this in organizing ideas and information in org mode, which isn't a file system (strictly, tho with text files it can do the work of one) but still provides an interesting basis to think about things.

@arefgee @schlink

@urusan @arefgee @schlink

I see a lot of competitors to org mode that emphasize non-hierarchical properties and while I make no disagreement that organizing information in hierarchies is a distortion of reality, I am so far unconvinced that human brains can meaningfully interact with ideas at a macro level without creating "hierarchical distortions" as intermediary tools.

@urusan @arefgee @schlink

I think your point about letting go of rigid file systems is fantastic and very nuanced and I guess what I would say is that from the lens of org mode there are many competing thinking systems that emphasize a complete lack of hierarchy and I think they are trying to think outside the box by coming up with an anti-box... its not really thinking outside the box

@urusan @arefgee @schlink

I would love someone to provide direct evidence I am wrong, but right now I conceptualize the human mind in its relation to non-hierarchical systems as a person viewing a sculpture.

Sculptures for the most part embrace the idea that there is no specific perspective (hierarchical organization) to view them from, yet the human eye cannot directly sense 3d volumes so a person must walk around the sculpture taking multiple perspectives to construct a sense of the volume.

@urusan @arefgee @schlink

My point is, I don't think the hierarchy is the problem, I think the rigidity of the hierarchy is the problem and the assumed axiom that only a single perspective/hierarchy can exist at a time is the problem.

It is an echo of how scientific models of the universe are necessary but are also inherently distortions of reality. The solution is to continually develop new scientific models and use information from each to develop a sense of reality/volume.

@urusan @arefgee @schlink

I guess I am arguing for a tag based system like you say, although I might describe it as a system that has atoms that are shared between multiple coexisting hierarchies (such that editing the atom from any one hierarchy updates the atom everywhere else). These hierarchies have no information themselves beyond a recipe for organizing the atoms into said hierarchies.


@urusan and @schlink , I don't know what you two are smoking, but it seems fucking strong! x'D

Both of you lost yourselves in your own fantasies of future file-systems. This article is not about file-systems. It's about how students and inexperienced professionals cannot comprehend computer basics, because they were not shown. In addition to being given dumbed down systems to use.
That's not going to go away with new architectures built on sci-fi fantasy.

@Alonealastalovedalongthe @urusan @schlink
As long as data is stored in files, that file will physically exist somewhere. If one cannot understand that they cannot build "any" kind of "better" system to access it.
Also, people don't tag their shit. No point fantasizing they will.

And stop spamming the feeds by posting 15 comments at a time, all set to public! Unlist your shit! Or tag it ;D

@arefgee @urusan @schlink

I am sorry, I disagree with you on multiple points and feel like you are being needlessly condescending but I am genuinely sorry I took up a bunch of your feed and didn't CW

It's not needless. Completely misinterpreting an entire article, then wasting everyone's time with the same attention-seeking, tech-bro crap that leads to these problems; it needs to be pointed out.
The systems that you want to have already exist—within corporations that manage and trade in the world's data.

CW doesn't hide a long chain of shitposts. Only masks their contents. Unlist and "Nest" your comments. Just like a filesystem with a hierarchical structure.

@arefgee @Alonealastalovedalongthe I didn't misinterpret the article. I was exploring an aspect of the article that was mostly just hinted at: all of the younger people and even some of the educators spoke positively of the new model. Why is that?

There's more afoot here than just "Big tech companies brainwashed your children! News at 11!"

Two other quick notes:
* Files (and especially directories) are not inherent to storage
* These ideas are over a half century old

@arefgee Is there a nesting feature I'm missing?

I will leave you out of future lengthy conversations per your request. Sorry to blow up your feed with a tootstorm.

@Alonealastalovedalongthe Hold on, I've got to think through what you said here.

One immediate thing I can say though is that having a non-hierarchical underlying data is key to the flexibility you are hoping to achieve. In your analogy, it's like having a 3D model of the sculpture, which you can then readily view from different angles.

Also, a quick note about tag systems: The hidden hierarchy is the tags themselves. All the tag systems I've used have hierarchical (or flat) tags.

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