Friday, June 8, 2012

File System Access

Steve Jobs:

You don’t keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes. You don’t keep your music in the file system, that would be crazy. You keep it in this app that knows about music and knows how to find things in lots of different ways. Same with photos: we’ve got an app that knows all about photos. And these apps manage their own file storage.

Dave Winer:

You can shuffle the parts around, and you still have the same problem. The data ultimately is organized in a hierarchy. If you can visualize that hierarchy, and provide interactions that make sense to edit and view that hierarchy, there’s no reason the same browser shouldn’t be used for all types of data. It does not have to be a “wall.” All your stuff ends up inter-relating anyway. Do you use the emailer to send music files? Yes of course. Do you use a text editor to write about the podcast you just recorded? Yes. So why have 20 mediocre tools when what you need is one really great one.

iTunes as a view on top of the filesystem makes sense. The iOS/iCloud view of a future with no shared state or messaging seems like a dead end to me. I don’t think it will work to pre-determine all the interactions that people will want.

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"I don’t think it will work to pre-determine all the interactions that people will want."

(My bolding.)

One size fits all. What makes sense for mobile phones makes senses for desktops, laptops, and tablets. (Even if it doesn't really make sense for mobile phones once you start to think about it.)

All user wants shall be met. Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black. Why would Dave whine about such freedom?

Steve Jobs was a genius, but he was dead wrong about this one.

Creating a walled garden of data means that all interactions with that data can only be implemented by the developer of the app. And that creates huge dead-ends and nasty vendor lock-in. The iTunes interface is one of the worst UX in all the apps on my computer, but because it's a walled-garden no 3rd party can make it better. The world of computing has thrived because of open standard formats; the only one closed data benefits is the vendor that manages to come first and create lock-in.

So I guess Steve Jobs wasn't wrong if you consider how iTunes creates lock-in for Apple, but that doesn't benefit anyone else.

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