Tags VS Folders

OK, this is my next article following this one.

First I promised that I will write about "how human organize information" ,but now I feel that is too big a subject. (meaning: I'm lazy...)

So, instead of that, I thought I will write about "how we use computer to organize information."

Then I realized I have written about it months ago. ( Title: "File Management" )

Oh well, this time I will just "rewrite" that in a clearer way then.

OK, let's start.

Files in computer

We can think of File as a unit of information.
As every computer user should know, computer organizes files in folders.
Actually, this really comes from how we organize papers in the real world.

Look here for the comparison:

We didn't change the concept at all when we evolves from paper to paperless,
and it is quite sad because since we are on computer now, we can use a much better concept to organize information.

And so comes tag.

Tag - a natural way to organize information

This "tag" concept is generally the same as how brain organize information: by association.

Each thing that we remembered has a "tag" or "label" or "keyword" associated with it.

For example:

What do you think of when I say "father"?

I would think of "parent" , "warmth" , "male" ,and "money." This is my tags.

It is very likely that, if I play a guessing game, and someone says all of this keywords to me, I will probably think "father" is an answer.

In other words, tagging is a way to search for information. And this is fast, because it is the way our brain works.

Do you see now how "tag" is better than "file and folder" concept?

I'll give you another example:

You received a word document from your friend "John" last month, and stored it in some folders.
Now you want to find it, but you can't remember the name of the folder, and you for sure can't remember the name of the file ...

In folders world, you might have to look at each folder, one by one, till you find it.
In tags world, you just search by "John", and "last month (ex: april 2005.)"

To really understand what I'm saying
I strongly recommend you to see this demo. (it's 28 MBs, but you'll love it.)
the demo is about how we could organize picture and media files in a new way. watch it.

Screen caps of the demo:

OK, this is getting a little bit long, so I will end here. Next time... I don't know what I will write next, so keep watching this blog until then.

The Growing Importance Of Librarians

Oh yes, the librarians. They are pretty important nowadays.

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They hand out library cards,
they whisper "Shhhhhh!" at you for being so loud in their librarys,
and sometimes they forbid you to borrow books "just for fun."

I'm kidding. What I mean is that we're depending more
and more on librarian-like skills.

And What does a librarian do, exactly?

They organize information.

As you might already experience, We're getting bombard by a huge amount of information everyday. I felt that when I filled up 120 GB harddisk. I felt it again when I realized I hadn't read 6 books that I bought 3 month ago.

The problem now is not how to get enough information,
but how to find the relevant ones.

And that comes from a good organization of information.

For example, Suppose you want to find out about "buying adult diaper".

You might try the following :

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T.V. - You sit for hours, waiting for commercials about adult diaper. There may be 2 or 3 times a day. The information is incomplete and also exaggerated for advertising purpose.

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Yellow Pages - You try to find companys that sell adult diaper. The options are: search by name (alphabetical order) or by group ( like "car" or "insurance" ) . I'm not sure if they have a group called "adult diaper."

Google - You type "Buying adult diaper" in the search box.
This is the results.

These, for me, is like a way of organizing information, a library of sorts. There are T.V. library, Yellow Pages library, and Google library.

As you can see, T.V. is the worst of all three, mainly because its constantly pushes irrelevant information to us. you can't tell it what you want to watch, it tells you. ( although the situation has improved since TiVo came out.)

Yellow pages is better, but searching is difficult and unnatural, as there are only 2 ways of searching: name and group.

Google is much better, and is the best of all three.
By just typing the words in,
it finds the buyers directory, an article about the industry,
and a buying guide.

The links is all in the first page. Notice that it filters out about 84,290 of 84,300 links.

You may argue that this is not examples of ways of organizing information,
it's ways of searching. But, you see, it is because
a particular way of organizing information (such as by alphabetical list),
that enables a particular way of searching (by alphabetical order.)

Well, this is it, for now.
On my next article, I'm going to talk about how human organize information, why I hate folders, and how google is going to be the biggest information company in the world.

( This wraps up my first "serious" article. Please comment so I know how I can improve it or maybe why you disagree with me. Feedbacks is important! )

Gmail turns 1 today

I love Gmail so much... it's fast, reliable, spacious, and lastly it's cute -- just look at the pic below. I love this kind of informal atmosphere...

oh well, Long live Gmail!

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