Computers Without Files

There are some blogs in my RSS reader that I don't look at all that often but enjoy reading when I get the chance. One of those is Eric Sink. Eric and I have never met, but he was an influential boss/coworker for one of my business partners. Eric's always provided great wisdom into the software industry and tech in general. I came across two posts from him that really have me thinking.

In the first post he writes (actually a Twitter post):

We're heading toward two classes of computers: one for people like me, and one for people like my Mom.

In his next post he talks about the iPad as a continuation of this theme. Sink hits on what's been one of my main gripes about the iPad as a computing platform – I want file system access. After reading these two posts I started wondering whether or not I really need access to files.

I already don't do a lot of file organization. I generally use internal organization tools within apps – iPhoto, Lightroom, iTunes, etc. I use Bridge and metadata in a bunch of Adobe apps. I generally drop well named files into a folder and then use Spotlight to find them – I've got several folders with 7,000-10,0000 unorganized files in them. 

It got me to thinking. Could I use my computer exclusively with Spotlight and in-app media browsers? That's what I've done the past couple of days. The one exception has been file uploads to the web (something that still needs to be supported on the iPhone/iPad).

I did open Terminal a few times – I can't help it, I'm a geek. 

Sink asks some great questions. I'll add a few:

  • How will we effectively add sufficient metadata to documents?
  • Will we end up with multiple "clouds" of data? MobileME? Amazon S3? Dropbox? etc. Will device manufacturers lock users to their own cloud?
  • How will local sharing work? Will the cloud be required to share something with somebody in the next office?
  • Doing video production, how will HUGE items on connected devices function?

What do you think? Could you use a computer without files?