I predict that the Journal on the XO laptop will be a roaring success,
as it is designed around one person
— it is One Laptop Per Child, after all —
and it avoids the problem of Save overwriting documents.
I came up with this prediction after reading
Per Child (OLPC) XO Laptop
from which I saw a link to the
specifically the section on how file management works.
We believe that the traditional “open” and “save” model commonly used for
files today will fade away, and with it the familiar floppy disk icon…
Instead, a more general notion of
what it means to “keep” things will prevail. Generally speaking, we keep
things which offer value, allowing the rest to disappear over time. The
Journal’s primary function as a time-based view of a child’s activities
reinforces this concept.
OLPC Human Interface Guidelines.)
I have had similar thoughts myself: my thesis detailed a system that just
used time to organise documents.
Considering that it was academic software, which had its flaws, it was
My work on document organisation was inspired by three observations:
- Documents are rarely retrieved once finished ,
- Most email clients organise documents (messages) by time, and
- Save deletes the prior version.
Inspired my my results, I have been keeping most of my documents in
one folder (
For retrieval I use temporal cues and search — and it works.
Without folders, I no longer have to think about where to store a document:
it goes in my home folder.
For retrieval, I used the Recently Used section of the
Open dialog, or search.
The reason this works is that generally old documents are not
The fact that the site-style for
is the oldest document in my home-folder is not really that much of an
issue, because I am unlikely to need to retrieve the two-year old file,
and it stays out of the way at the bottom of the list.
The down side of my system is that
Save will still delete the
prior version of my document, unlike the XO Journal system, or indeed
the file system in VMS, or the Elephant File System.
The Recently Used section of the Open dialog is
also useful for the documents that are not stored in my home folder: code.
I use the Recently Used list a lot because I am generally
working on a few related modules, such as the
for a page, and the supporting
code is stored in a strict folder hierarchy.
This is because it is maintained by three people besides myself,
and everyone (and
has to be able to figure out where each code module is, what each code
module does, and how each module relates to the wider system.
In his article in The Register, Brian Hurley expresses a concern
about the children adapting from the Journal model of document
organisation to working with the XO code, which is organised in
I suspect that this will not be a problem.
People commonly use different means of organising different
documents: music is organised in a music player (such as iTunes),
email is organised by a email client (such as Outlook), pictures
are organised by a photo-organisers (such as iPhoto), and Web pages
are “organised” by the Web of hypertext links.
The addition of the Journal to organise personal documents, and the
folder hierarchy to organise code is not a big imposition.
It is definitely better than using a system designed to organise
code (in the
to organise personal documents.
 Barreau, D. and Nardi, B. A. (1995).
Finding and reminding: File organization from the