The Register goes deep inside Apple’s Piles

Andrew Orlowski has gone deep inside Apple’s ‘Piles’ and has sprung a report from the depths:

“Apple is set to enhance the desktop UI it created twenty years ago, according a report at eWeek. The report bears the Rothenberg hallmark of quality, so listen up. At the heart of the UI revamp are ‘piles.’ Although haemorrhoids give millions of sufferers discomfiture every day, Apple’s ‘piles’ are an intriguing concept which should ease the pain of using such a constipated file and folder UI metaphor.”

“Piles are an Apple invention , now patented, that allow users to browse and organize documents by their semantic content. They were developed by Gitta Salomon and her colleagues at Apple’s Advanced Technology Human Interface Group and announced to the world at the CHI conference in May 1992. Gitta kindly sent us the original presentation and spoke with us briefly today. She left Apple in 1993, and after a spell at Sony’s lab started her own company, Swim Interaction Design, based in downtown San Francisco.”

“The paper describes ‘Piles’ as an adjunct to the file/folder metaphor, in the paper (co-authored with Richard Mander and Yin Yin Wong). A clue is in the title, which describes piles as a metaphor for ‘supporting casual organization of information.'”

“Piles were seen as complementary to the folder filing system, which was used more for archiving than grouping recently used, but related documents. ‘The folder as the sole container type presents an impoverished set of possibilities,’ the authors noted.”

“But Piles are a deep innovation, that require the system to add content-based filtering and some, possibly AI-guided help to the user who is browsing through a Pile. They’re more than simply eye-candy,” Orlowski explains.

Read the full article, “Deep inside Apple’s Piles” here.

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