Monday, November 23, 2009

Lo-Fi?

I came across the Lo-Fi Manifesto by following a link from Douglas Barone, to whose review of DEVONthink I referred in yesterday's post. He himself seems to have implemented himself a "low-fi" or simple approach with his File System Manger that relies on a text editor, text files and consistent file naming.

Here is the statement of Lo-fi production technologies. They are said to be "stable and free. They consist of and/or can retrograde to:
  1. Plain text files (.txt, .xml, .htm, .css, .js, etc.)
  2. Plain text editors (Notepad, TextEdit, pico/nano, vi, etc.)
  3. Standardized, human-readable forms of open languages expressed in plain text (XML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.)
  4. Single-media files (image, audio, video) in open formats
Despite their humble, decades-old base technology (plain text), innovative uses of lo-fi technologies can be remarkably hi-fi, as in the case of AJAX (whose most famous application may be Google’s Gmail service)."

I think this approach is "commendable" and "ingenious," even though it is more trouble than it is worth. What you really want for a complicated (or life-long) data-store is a database. What you also want is easy import and export capabilities that reliably allow you to transform your content into plain text files, HTML or whatever you desire. You should not always have to work with these simple formats and their inherent limitations. The only applications you should definitely avoid are those that "lock you in" or make it difficult to export to plain text.

To use text files in the way described by adherents of this method seems to me the equivalent of mowing a five acre meadow with a Push Reel Mower. Heroic ... perhaps, but not the smartest use of effort and time.

No further comment!

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