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Virtual Library

or real digital filesystem
  [vote for,

Those of us of a bibliophilic persuasion with tendencies to organise and categorise informational and instructive ephemera, nowadays possess disks filled with spreadsheets, pdfs, images, videos, and other computer files as well as shelves filled with books, manuscripts, pamphlets, solander boxes and other paper substrates for our information.

The paper-based information substrates can be used as a stylish and aesthetically pleasing part of interior decor, by using bookshelves as an integral part of room layout. This not only saves on other furniture, pictures, wallpaper etc. (since the bookcases can easily be the only furniture in most rooms). But they also assist with information retrieval and categorisation in a very direct and visceral way.

"Hoards of cockroaches... there was something about that in the biography of entomologist Ernest Smythers-O'Conaghan Flytt... here it is in the spare bedroom, on the top shelf to the left of the window, beside other biographies" and you can flick through to page 4,388 to find the reference.

Digital files on the computer do not have this feature. Yes they have other advantages such as the ability to do boolean or other searches on their titles, content or metadata. But this can break down if the files are not well tagged, or if the contents refer to vague or common words (try searching a filesystem for a photo of John Smith's digital artwork, titled "A")

Proposed is a system for creating virtual bookshelves on unused or blank walls in a building. This could be a domestic installation for a private library, or it could be an institutional setup for public or corporate data.

The idea is to make the data index or filesystem visible and persisting on the walls. A projection system was considered, but rejected as being too transient. A physical medium system was also considered (this is sometimes baked, such as when hdds are stacked on a normal bookshelf) but rejected as too unwieldy.

What is needed is a file- or folder-scale representation of the items.

If the wall was covered in little e-ink display panels, in rows, like the spines of books on the shelves. Each panel could include a QR type code, to be scanned by a networked device which would then retrieve and display the associated file data. Or, the panel could include a button, which would send the data file to a device or central server. The display would show a title and a small amount of other associated metadata, in small black-on-white font, in a way that complemented the decor of the room, in the same way that book spine (or foreedge if you're really classy) title labels do.

I am not clear at the moment about the mechanism for shuffling the labels around. Perhaps each little display panel is a separate unit. Perhaps it magnetically attaches to discrete steel rails running in stripes along the wall, allowing the user to remove a panel, and move it to a diffferent place. Perhaps instead the panels are fixed, but can be manually or automatically shuffled.

Also how about folders? Perhaps there could be areas where the folder name is given as the header to a row, a column or an entire room, with the little labels disposed around the walls as usual.

Now you can be sitting at a posh dinner party in your posh dining room, with elegant minimalist white walls, covered in little elegantly typewritten labels. "Do you remember Edith Edison and her edifying edicule?" "yes I do, I have a copy of her essay on its ingenious interior. it'll be over in this corner behind the door. Third or forth shelf I think ... yes here, eeii.pdf, grab one of those tablets from under your placemat and scan the code and you can have a flick through it..."

pocmloc, Dec 03 2019


       I would like this, and like books and bulkier 2 CD containers used display rectangles would pile up cheaply, say 25 cents for a rectangle you can change the image on with a click of the mouse.   

       That and a right click menu item that says "promote to bookshelf" would rotate the file up to replace the least utilized rectangle's file with the new file.   

       I might start with just a few, or a few hundred rectangles, but as they got down to 25 cents used I might get hundreds
beanangel, Dec 04 2019

       Yes, but this idea completely ignores the main point of having a big library in your house which is to have one bay of bookshelves be a hidden door which, upon pressing a concealed lever, swings open to reveal your secret lair.
hippo, Dec 04 2019


       Anyway this does not replace book shelves, it merely augments them.
pocmloc, Dec 04 2019


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