Tags instead of directories?

Recently, I had an idea that very short googling hasn't proven already implemented. The Web seems to be moving from hierarchical categories to tags, at least for some applications, like photo annotations. I wonder if this approach could work for a generic OS filesystem.

The idea is that instead of /home/jacek/jokes.html I'd have jokes.html with the tags home and jacek. The current directory of a program would be replaced by the current set of tags. A few examples:

cd /
ls # shows all files without tags and all tags
cd home/jacek # same as cd jacek/home
ls # shows all my files with no additional tags but home and jacek, and all my tags
cd pictures
ls # shows all my pictures with no other tags, and all tags of my pictures
lsall # shows all my pictures, regardless of tags
cd flowers
lsall # shows all my pictures of flowers
cd ..jacek # current tags home, pictures, flowers
lsall # shows all pictures of flowers by any user (tags home and pictures)
ls # shows all tags of users' pictures (and all pictures not tagged with a username)
cd /bin
ls # shows all the programs with no other tags
/bin/bash # would run file bash with tag bin only
bash # would run file bash with the first matching tag set from $PATH
# (. means current tag set)

The system would, of course, have restrictions on some tags, e.g. a user can only create files with tags home and their username, and user Alice cannot create files with tag Bob, etc. In fact, the username tags would probably be user:Alice and user:Bob, so that I can tag my pictures of Alice and Bob simply with these words. There are things to be ironed out, but the idea intrigues me. Sadly, I'm no good hacker and it would take me ages to make something workable like this, which I can't afford at this time.

Does anybody else also think this might be a neat idea? And please point me to the implementations, done 5 years ago already, that everybody knows about but me. 8-)

Posted at 1140 on Fri, Feb 2, 2007 in category Ideas | TrackBack | Comments feed

e.g. beaglefs http://rlove.org/log/2006062301

Posted by: Standa at February 4, 2007 9:57 PM

I think you might be on to something. I'd already like to switch my music collection to tags. If I want to listen to mellow newish female singer/songwriters, tagging with mellow, female, singer/songwriter combined with date search is the right way to go. I've tried to do file hierarchies but they just don't work. Should Norah Jones be Pop, Indie, Vocals? How about KT Tunstall? Or Sia? Or...

Pictures and videos still make sense by directory to me though.

Maybe files by tagging will take over selected directories like music.

Posted by: Dave Orchard at February 20, 2007 8:15 PM

Well this is a great idea, I've been thinking about it for a while.
It would let you manage the files in a totally flexible way, instead of rigid directories.
But since there are no directories, could two files have the same name?
supose they can only if they have different sets of tags, what if you want some day to change the tags of one file in such way it ends up with the same tags and same name of another file?
Would this filesystem have the filetype info as an extension like in windows? or as hidden metadata as in macintosh?
All in all, it's a very good Idea, dough.

Posted by: Petruza at September 8, 2007 9:48 PM

Hi Jacek,
Not quite sure but I found a paper[1] about a related topic today.
"SemFS: A Semantic approach to File Systems"
and perhaps a related link[2] to a tagging file system.


Posted by: Juergen Umbrich at July 7, 2008 7:34 PM
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