my personal blog

June 21, 2006

3D Desktops: Not a Great Idea

Filed under: rants,technology — Alfonso Surroca @ 4:41 pm

I think the 3D desktop concept is beginning to go too far. I was looking at this video today of the “BumpTop” 3D tablet PC type interface which mimics the way documents are “organized” in a real-world desktop. As pretty as the interface might be, it suffers from a fatal flaw: The cluttered real-life desktop is not a good organization method.

The Mac OSX interface is great, and the new Windows Vista interface is great; and both interfaces mimic real-world organization to a certain extent. Whether it’s the fish-eye effect used to scroll through program icons in OSX or the 3D alt-tab in Vista, I accept that these are novel ways of organizing an otherwise cluttered virtual desktop. However, the interface I mentioned, called “BumpTop”, goes too far, adding real-world physics that allow you to toss virtual documents into piles the same way an unorganized person would do in real life.

3D Desktops With Physics, or Metadata and Tagging?

With all the work that forward-thinking companies such as Apple (and now Microsoft with Vista) have done in allowing extensive use of metadata, and with the web2.0 love affair with tags, I see this as a decidedly large step in the wrong direction. Instead of tossing documents in a pile and then wondering which pile you tossed them in, future Mac and Windows users are going to be able to use metadata and search to call up the exact document almost instantly.


If I scan a credit card receipt for a purchase I made at Best Buy last Christmas shopping season for a laptop, and then tossed the virtual receipt in a pile of other virtual receipts and forgot about it, I would have to thumb through them on my computer when I want to find it. That is no better than thumbing through real receipts. Instead, with Mac or Windows, I’ll scan the document, and forget about it, letting the software sort it for me. When I want it, I’ll remember “I need that receipt from Best Buy from Christmas”, type something like “receipt Best Buy December 2005” and most likely be pointed exactly to the document I’m looking for (that is, unless I bought a lot of things matching the exact criteria).

So, this was a little bit of a rant, but I think that this whole 3D desktop thing goes against all the progress that is being made in terms of organizing data on one’s computer, aiming for looks and wow-factor over actual function. It is counterintuitive and I think it’s about time we moved on.

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1 Comment

  1. man you got more comments from myspace heh

    Comment by vendetta08 — June 24, 2006 @ 12:20 pm

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