In Defense of Data Islands
19 May 2009
Louis Gerbarg comments on Steven Frank’s thoughts on the state of computing (previously linked to from here):
I think we can get past the desktop metaphor, and I think it will be done by designing systems that do not have a filesystem as an exposed concept for the user.
I think to some extent this is what Apple (and many others) are attempting on a small scale with applications like iTunes and iPhoto. They provide access to data within files without actually exposing the file system. The media browser in Mac OS X 10.5 is another example of browsing files by content rather than structural placement.
I’ve argued that these applications should be plugins to the file system, views in a file browser if you will, but the idea is the same: Easy access to the content of files without worrying about where it is or how it is stored.
The AddressBook application, as Gerbarg mentions, would be close to useless if it didn’t allow Mail.app to read my contacts or drag-and-drop a vcard attachment to create a new contact. The key is connectivity, online and on the desktop and to the user and developer alike.