Fragmentation by Unity?Page 2 of 3
The Zeitgeist of Unity
Shuttleworth explained one clear point where his vision and the one of the GNOME team differ fundamentally and that is a module named "Zeitgeist" which will be part of the next GNOME version but was decided to have a rather small role there in GNOME 3. It basically is some kind of index database for the file system that stores various metadata about the available files, most prominently their usage by the desktop user and tags that the user adds them, and offers them to file managing applications of the platform.
It is the basis of what shuttleworth calls an "activity based paradigm to handle content". The vision is to have a file system that you yourself do not have to organize using a custom folder hierarchy, but which will automatically identify your activity tasks, the files that belong to it and make it very easy for you to locate and organize them based on this information.
Yes, I actually was myself sceptical the first time I heard this rather dry and abstract description. Until I first saw a demo of a "zeitgeist"-enabled file manager:
I think Zeitgeist is onto something. For my now nearly 2 decades in IT I have watched numerous casual users who were unable to efficiently use filesystem folders to organize their work. Sometimes they had no idea where they actually stored their docs on the filesystem and then were unable to re-retrieve them from a different application than it was stored in. Or they failed to create a folder organisation that matched their way of organizing things.
Well, at the latter point I actually tend to fail myself. The problem is often that I shift the classification types for which I make folders along the way. Do i categorize my files by project or by application? Regarding of the actual case or only the mood I'm in one seems more fitting than the other. And no, I do not want to create both folders and then exhaustively mess with symlinks just to keep me organized. I want it to "just work".
Zeitgeist may be the first step into a direction where file management is more like managing records in a database. You don't really care "where" your record is stored. Instead you classify it with the matching tags, and added with automaticly gathered information like modification time it will be easy for you to re-retrieve it when neccessary.
This would be a huge improvement for casual users and I think this is where Shuttleworth sees some real potential that he wants to embrace.
On to the next page...