How should digital ‘objects’ behave, realistically?

Hyper-realistically more like. This via Lifehacker. Anand Agarawala and Ravin Balakrishnan BumpTop prototype demonstrates the desktop metaphor taken to a new level, in what may be considered ‘gamespace’.

We explore making virtual desktops behave in a more physically realistic manner by adding physics simulation and using piling instead of filing as the fundamental organizational structure. Objects can be casually dragged and tossed around, influenced by physical characteristics such as friction and mass, much like we would manipulate lightweight objects in the real world.

Josh Spear does one of the best posts on it, although I am not as certain as most if this is a good idea or not. Clearly it needs to be massively user tested, (which I would love to sign up for) but more, does it makes sense for digital arifacts, files, to be limited by the confounds of our ‘real’ world?

Not to mention the fact that people would have to learn an entirely new ‘gesture’ based language, (can you say graffiti ? ), but as one commenter on the lifehacker post put it…

Ummm… filenames? Metadata? Thumbnails anyone?

What the hell am I going to do with a bunch of identical icons?

Sure, this looks cool, but I don’t see how it works for actual document management without, you know, WORDS!

Of course, considering applying these principles to tagclouds really gets the imagination going.

My own research is similar perhaps but working in reverse. By looking at peoples storing solutions, strategies and patterns, I hope to make a case for a behaviour based design of interfaces used specifically to sort and store. (File Systems, Email, Media players,)