BumpTop, the failed metaphor 19:24 on Saturday

I know this is a bit last month, but everybody seems to be too enthusiastic about BumpTop. I think it sucks big time. Looks cool, though.

Three Minds @ Organic think BumpTop makes a complex desktop simple. Strangely it is only those who have not once got themselves well organized who think an unorganized mess of piled stuff is a superior way to manage the stuff. They call this “organized clutter”, at least until they are asked to pay late fees on bills that are safely positioned at the bottom of one of these piles. Believe me, I’ve paid my late fees.

John Koezier calls this may be a significant step forward in UI design. Pleez. Adding ways to throw, hang and generally fiddle with your documents is a significant step backward in productivity, if anything. I’ll agree with John on piles though.

Infosthetics writes how great BumpTop is because users are not forced to commit to categorization, such as the immediate naming & filing of documents. Guess what? You can get to your dream land right now. Just keep all your files as “untitled” and hide the file names if that makes your life easier. Infosthetics touches a valid point though: location and color can be important identifiers besides the filename. That’s why Apple already has color labels and freely positionable icons (in two dimensions). If you’ve ever seen a computer virgin use a mouse, you can probably imagine the fun it would make to watch them position their icons in BumpTop’s three-dimensional space.

I could add that documents probably are intended to only display the name of the document when moused over, which was one of the bigger mistakes of the OS X Dock. But I’ll cut them slack on this one, it’s a prototype anyway.

Being such a utilitarian personality, perhaps not surprisingly the only post I agree with is on 43 Folders. WYSIWYG is dead. My computer currently has around half a million files. A desktop metaphor for half a million documents? That sentence is enough to understand the desktop metaphor must go. We need results, not another way to put half a million documents in piles.

7 Responses to “BumpTop, the failed metaphor”

    Mentions elsewhere:

  1. Sparkplug 9 >> bizhack » Blog Archive » Bumptop Piles: Apple, are you listening?
  2. Links from my other posts:

  3. /personal » Blog Archive » In need of casual interactions
  4. /personal » Blog Archive » Why 3D in user interfaces goes wrong

  6. John Koetsier Says:

    There’s absolutely no question that as a metaphor for 1.5 million files, the desktop fails, and fails miserably.

    Where I see something like Bumptop as useful, however, is the transient stuff: the files for the 5 projects you have on the go right now. That’s what is on your physical desktop: not all 1.5 million pieces of paper you’ve seen/touched/needed/wanted at some point in your entire life. And that’s what’s on your virtual desktop.

    However, ultimately you’re right. The question is: what do we have to replace the desktop metaphor?

  7. Niko Says:

    The transient stuff, that’s where I absolutely agree. If there is a place for a desktop metaphor in the future, it should be a metaphor of desktop use, not a metaphor of what a desktop looks like. The desktop is something you put your working documents on, and when you’re done, you file them back to their proper place. Or that’s how an organized desktop works, of course there’s nothing stopping someone from piling up all his stuff on the desktop. Maybe the desktop could be some kind of a “project view” to a set of documents?

    To replace desktop — personally I think I would enjoy a time/history based interface that wouldn’t be hierarchical, although could be presented as different hierarchies if needed…

  8. Tommi Raivio Says:

    Would you bet for 2D or 3D? If you could only choose one… :)

  9. Niko Says:

    Definitely 2D. A 3D visualization on a computer monitor is a 2D projection, which makes it more difficult to understand. Not for those who have grown up playing first-person shooters, maybe.

    Secondly, I’m not completely sure about the usefulness of three dimensions in current operating systems: the way you can position windows on top of each other. It could be good, but then again, it could be just the best that people have figured out so far. And I don’t believe adding “physical” dimensions will make these systems any simpler. Dimensions of meaning is different, though…