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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?

alan's picture

The thing that strikes me...

The thing that strikes me as a possible use is for online collaboration letting any user pickup and examine files.




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