I know, nobody cares
And I know it's probably either bullshit or somebody else has thought of it, but I figured it would still put it on here just in case somebody is like "hey, I want
Here we go:
Right now, information is stored in files, which are "groups" of information, which only sometimes make sense. XML is a first way of making information accessible without the limitations, which file types have placed upon them. Still, even XML has downsides. There is no way of relating information, except by (not anticipated) grouping by names or in hierachical structures.
I would like for computers to learn, what information is related and present it accordingly. As an example: I write this document and find some related web pages. I associate these web pages with this document. Additionally the computer finds other documents relating to this content on my computer and the internet. While I edit the document, it changes significantly: I can now click on several phrases to be presented with more information on the topic. There are sketches in the document, which display how this information is related. I can rate / moderate / meta-moderate links and the document is changed accordingly. From the moment I gave a single keyword on, editing the document is a matter of relating information and judging the computer's decisions.
Of course, this requires a far more liberal idea of information. Today, every file is a singe entity with a certain amount of information stored in it. There are borders which cannot be crossed. The human operator needs to determine where and what to find, he needs to select and copy the information, he needs to put it into the document and so forth.
This way of working would be ideal for people working with information exclusivelly. New ideas as well as evidence and proof of existing information can easily be aquired and used in documents. I hesitate to use the word "file", because this idea is not practical, when this abstract concept would be implemented. The closest thing to files would be meta-data, from which everything else is interpreted, and "pure information", which is linked, grouped and cited in meta-documents. Today, everything is mixed up, most important are documents, which already contain information and "meta-data" (natural language), connections between pieces of information are not practical. They are either established through "physical" association (if they are placed in the same folder) or through hyperlinks, which can only point at another file (or a position in a file), not at related information.
I thought about this idea a bit more, because I tried to explain it to my dad (well, the rough edges). I have not read what I have already written on the topic. I will give another point of view here and will later compare how much it matches, what I have oultined above.
The system will deal with information, rather than with files. I dont think I can mess with anything thats incorporated in computer architecture (which might ultimatelly be a way of improving things a lot more), but I find it possible that there might be a way of incorporating a better underlying system for computers. It will allow applications to do many things, which are considered impossible or hard to do, but would be a real improvement in computer interfaces and data organization.
I think of computers as tools to manage information (and it is a really universal tool! Much more so than any other tool I can think of). They are meant to acquire, provide, modify and distribute information. Therefore we need a direct approach, which deals with information rather than wrappers for information (files, file formats, folders,
This just didnt get my point across. Information is data that knows about it's context. Information can extend itself, it forms a network, enabling everyone to understand where it came from, how it was concluded,
Maybe it helps, if I relate it to the way it works today: I open up a document. In there, there is information, but it is connected by weird, non-universally understandable structures. To edit this information, I need to interpret it, relate it (in my mind) to things I know about, I need to acquire more information from other sources, combine these pieces of information, connect it with weird, non-universally understandable structures and put it down. Then, I need to save it in a wrapping structure, make it available to others, who can use it as another source of information for their work, but, in order to be able to use it, need to do the same thing I just did over.
If I want to do the same thing the way of was trying to outline above, I would start searching the information I have for certain pieces. Once I find it (same thing as opening up a document to start working from), I chose which related information is relevant to what I am looking for. By selecting I increase the "value" of certain connections to form a single piece of information with distinguishable parts. I may add other pieces of information not yet incorporated in the "database" and relate them to my document, which in turn relates it to other pieces of information, it has been connected to previously. By doing all of the above, I enable other people to see the relationship between different kinds of data, such making it possible for them to draw their own conclusion and work on the network. Next time I look at the same information again, I will find that it has been altered significantly and find conclusions I would not have thought of.
This is what I mean with "working with information" rather than data. While the above example is the most obvious way of using the new way of storing data, it can also be used in many other ways. It can be used to distribute problems and have them solved in a combined effort. It can be used to relate things, which were completely separated before (e.g. a game can "learn" to use information it was not programmed to use originally).
The technical implications of such systems would be huge: The existing system (files store data, computer interprets data to display, human interprets display to information, human edits information,
It is important that data is split in the smallest imaginable parts. Larger data-networks become pieces of information. (For example: a timetable of a train station only makes sense, if it is combined information (time, track, destination,
We might be working with information now. However our approach is not meant to be working with information, but with data. We need to put together a network of data, forming information, linking these networks and make information-networks to hold all information we need (or want or have).
I read an article on MS's WinFS and search engine plans in Longhorn. In there there was some information on privacy concerns. I have not touched on that any in this "file"
IT might be fun to imagine what a user interface for this kind of computer would be like. There would be a lot of information being displayed and combined and created and sent. Conversations, information on select topics, news feeds, email, currently open "documents",
I am thinking about, how to make this system compatible to existing systems. I dont think its good to do this, but it may be necessary to push a wider adoption. It would be insane to try to make existing systems run on it.
I have learned of Dashboard, which takes a less radical aproach, but may be a nice way of doing something vaguely similar with existing technology.