File Organization & Gnome 3.0

Thank-you to Felix Kaser for pointing out Mark Shuttleworth’s interview with It was an incredibly interesting read. While at the GCDS this year I made many guesses about the Ubuntu opinion on Gnome Shell and the plans for 3.0. They, as the largest distributor of a consumer linux desktop, have the most to lose or gain from the awesome 3.0 plans.

The part of the interview that struck me directly was Mark’s opinion on what is missing from our proposals:

Well initially there was a lot of discussions about something that was much less visual which is how files are organized and I even blogged about it. I think actually that could be a bigger  improvement in the every-day user experience of the GNOME desktop”

I don’t know about Mark, but I was surrounded by people who are desperate to solve this type of problem at GCDS. Rob Taylor & Philip Van Hoof were both present and really pushing tracker as a a usable, fast data-store for desktop metadata. I attended Thursdays ontology BoF with the two of them. Mark is right, this is generally an unsexy problem. People who missed the ‘Nature of e-mail containers’ conversation on Thursday afternoon avoided the GCDS nadir of boredom.

The real problems of how we present this to our users is still to come, and its much more difficult than providing a fast data-store or getting consensus on what the meta-data should look like. Still, its the sexy, exciting part where we should be able to get everyone involved. Mark may be surprised by how many at Codethink and elsewhere in the community are working on replacing the awful file-system metaphor for data organization. Obviously we haven’t done enough to get his attention yet, but that could change soon. (Small secret) Codethink should be putting resources into a demo app over the coming months for the purpose of showing off some cool new technologies, including the new Tracker. Wait for a blog post from Rob Taylor for the full details.