Search is the scalable interface

I’ve noticed recently that none of the on-line applications I use regularly incorporate the idea of a folder. Folders are so ingrained in our ‘desktop’ mind set that we (at best) don’t even notice them. But on the web they are completely absent. There are a few exceptions that prove the rule and I’ve certainly been asked to ‘port’ a couple of VB6 applications to the web which had a pointless tree view. But by and large the web is a folder free zone. And thank God!

Folders seemed cool back in the Xerox Park days but as the number of files we need to manage has increased they simply fail to scale. Search on the other hand, as proved by Google, scales exceptionally well. If you have the brains to keep it working.

There has been some drive to enable search as an interface on the desktop. Vista was originally going to incorporate WinFS, a new file system based on SQL Server. But that was shelved, sigh. Vista does have built-in search but it’s pretty poor. Copernic, Google and others have released desktop search providers but they feel bolted on.

With the advent of systems like gOS and the XO; computers are moving to a less file/folder-centric interface, which is refreshing. But there’s still a lot more ground to cover in the last mile between brain and hardware.

One Response to Search is the scalable interface

  1. Interesting post. I’d tend to agree with you, but I know alot of people who are insistent on filing away their documents. Its the old “filers versus pilers” adage.

    I think one of the biggest problems with search on the desktop is its very difficult to get relevance right. There are not enough key terms that you can grab to actually figure out what the document is about. Something must be done to actually read the document and get a gist of what it says.

    As far as Vista’s search, it seems pretty good to me. Its fast and always gives me what I’m looking for. With current technology (without some special inflection from sentence structure, as I mentioned earlier), I think its about the best we’re gonna get. What problems have you had with it?

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