Mobile technology should not be about cramming the office into your pocket but a way to enjoy your everyday life.

Give me back my folders!


Enough already with this tagging frenzy! Tagging is a poor substitute for hierarchical folders. Tagging is for people who don't organize. Tagging is a way to improve searching, and search is what you do when you have lost something. If you organize, you don't have to search. There is nothing wrong with tagging - but it is not a way to organize.

I like Flickr and I like Gmail, but they don't let me organize. Sure, I have tagged my 5500+ photos, but they are all floating around there without structure.

If I go on a trip and take 200 photos, I will most probably end up with something like 198 or 202 photos tagged accordingly in Flickr because the uploader lost connection and either lost a few photos or uploaded a few twice - and I have no idea witch ones are missing or double because all I see are not quite 200 thumbnails floating around there. And Organizr will probably find only 58 of them - and 52 if I refresh...

I like to organize things. I like to put things in nice square boxes. And with computers I can do this hierarchically.

I use Thumbsplus on my PC. It lets me use the computer's own folder structure to organize photos neatly - thus making me truly future proof - I am not really tied in with any system or software that is unlikely to be around 20 years from now. I have a folder called places. Under this folder I have one folder for each country where I have taken photos during trips. Under each country I have one folder for every trip I have made, usually named according to the city I visited and the year or some other small description of the trip.

I can find any of my 20.000+ photos in a heartbeat. With tags, I never really know if I have found all the photos that I have and tagging only works if I write tens of tags for each photo. I would probably need a quarter of a million tags - and with that many tags I will surely misspell a few and then I will never find them.

With a folder structure, your photos are allways SOMEWHERE in a unambiguous way and it is easy to get an overview of the structure. With tags, your photos may be tied to some word ... or not, they might just be floating around without any connection or tied to a misspelled word or to a synonym you now how forgotten.

Tagging is great for tying special keywords to some photos, but folders beats tagging hands down when it comes to organizing large numbers of anything, be it mails or photos. I really hope Flickr, Gmail and others will implement folders as well - it can be done independently of tagging and without interfering with tags in any way. "Tags" used to be called "keywords" and that is how they should be used.

In theory, tags can take the role of folders. The result of a search for a keyword could be considered a virtual folder. That's ok until you want hierarchies. And without hierarchies you can not keep large numbers of anything organized. With folders, you add the photos to the folders - if you use tags, you add the tags to the photos. Add 100 photos to the folder "Switzerland" and you will have 100 photos in the folder "Switzerland". Add the tag "Switzerland" to 100 photos, and you might end up with 92 tagged that way, five with "Swizerland" and three with "Swizterland" :)

Some of us DO like to organize, not just put post-it stickers on stuff and throw it all into one huge box.