43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

BumpTop: Nice for anything...but my Desktop

BumpTop Prototype - HoneyBrown.ca

Don't get me wrong -- like apparently everyone this week, I think the BumpTop demo is right purty. The little interface widgets are beautiful and functional, and the physics of the motion seem realistic. It looks lovely. But would I ever, in a million years, seek this out as a Desktop replacement? You bet your butt I wouldn't, and I'll tell you why (as well as what it would be great for).

See, here's the thing: once your computer (and your related world, writ large) has excellent indexing, search, and access via something like Quicksilver, this kind of "physical" interface metaphor starts seeming quaint, if not downright exhausting. I guess I just never find myself shuffling and re-organizing large numbers of files in a way that isn't more than satisfactorily addressed with sorting, Smart Folders, icon views, and searching. I throw stuff into the most general piles I can stand, then let Quicksilver and Spotlight do all the heavy lifting. Maybe that's me, but this seems like a recipe for non-stop fiddling.

Having said that I can imagine several situations where I'd personally want to toss items into piles and use functionality similar to BumpTop.

  • Photographers? Maybe. Could be a nice interface for iPhoto or the like.
  • Video editing? Totally. Being able to quickly "pile" and re-arrange related clips would be unbelievably useful.
  • Shoppers? This would be ideal for eCommerce. Imagine a collaborative filtering inbox where you could throw books and CDs into piles. Maybe as a quick way to rate movies on Netflix?
  • Collectors? This jibes nicely with Delicious Library's approach in many ways. You're sitting there with a friend trading CDs and say, "Oh you'd love this, and this, and this...." Click to export, and zing, you're done.
  • Planners and schedulers of all kinds? Ever try to organize a conference or similar event without Excel and a huge bottle of Tylenol? The physicality of this would be a cool way to see "Oh, Track 4 is looking pretty busy for Monday morning; what can I move?"

But as an interface to my file and folder system? Meh. The metaphor of personal computer as physical space has been strained beyond usefulness, in my opinion. It's the lack of physicality that affords such insane productivity for Quicksilver users. Everything is abstracted into nouns and verbs and I get to mash them up however I need to. I'm unconstrained by "here" and "there."

Maybe I'm not who this would be targeted at, but I think I could be if it were applied to almost anything except my Desktop's contents.

What do you think?

About Merlin

Merlin's picture


Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »