Random Thoughts on Organization

The Simple Rules of Everyday Objects

When it comes to computer storage* the hierarchical folder system is the standard. It’s a fine option. Probably not the best option. But ostensibly the only option widely applied.

Folder > (sub)Folder > File

The folder system has simple rules that allow for the formation of complex structures. These four rules define how almost every who uses a computer keeps track of their files:

1. A Folder may contain a Folder

2. A Folder may contain a File

3. A File may not contain a Folder

4. A File may not contain another File

That’s pretty neat.

The challenge is to create a set of simple rules like these that allow for complexity to emerge as needed.

*There’s obviously a difference between storage structures and the visual representation of the storage structure (i.e. user interface vs. low level data storage structure). I have almost no clue as to how the files on my computer are actually, physically and systematically stored. As far as this class and this project goes, let’s assume I’m talking about the representation of a file storage system.


  • WinFS (Windows Future Storage): a “rich database” storage schema that is the one thing Bill Gates has said he wishes was fully developed.
  • Notes for a Liberated Computer Language: by Alex Galloway & Eugene Thacker (c. 2006). I’m honestly not entirely sure what this is. But I love it. It seems to be definitions of the parts of a fictional (theoretical?) programming language.
    • E.g. the “Zombie” data type is a process that is inactive but cannot be killed; the “Maybe” control structure allows for possible, but not guaranteed, execution of code blocks.