Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

20 November 2007 @ 10am

What “Why Spatiality is Nonsense” Missed

Rixstep just published an article about why spatial file navigation doesn’t work in today’s file systems: there’s just too many files. And if you assume you’re trying to assign a unique location on screen to each folder, you’re absolutely right: you’d have to be insane. But navigating in (for the moment, we’ll use the OS 9 Finder as our benchmark, seeing as OS X’s brokenness) Ye Olde Finder, I never have more than a few folders open at once, and when I do, they relate to each other. What are the odds that I’ll be opening ~/Documents/Desktop Pictures at the same time as /usr/share/lib? Or, for that matter, why in the world would I navigate the Unix underpinning (/bin, /dev, /var) with Finder at all? Any manipulations I want to perform on the contents of those folders are only available in a shell to begin with, so why bother navigating through them spatially?

I suppose that very flaw may be part of their argument, but, if you separate out navigation into “Duh, use zsh” for the Unix underside of OS X, and, “Let me drag and drop my files!” in ~/Documents or ~/Desktop or ~/Pictures, spatial navigation becomes more useful. I’ll say it again: spatial navigation makes blindingly obvious sense in certain cases, and just because it doesn’t work everywhere doesn’t mean it never works anywhere.