Tags in Finder are unassuming and can be easily missed, but I think it is the way that Apple is going to attack the file system long term. As Mr. Gruber stated on Systematic, many of the problems with common folder-based hierarchies are solved by the use of tags in the sense that no document has a single location with which it is associated. Instead, tags allow documents to exist in any number of locations based on its specific categorizations. In the Finder sidebar, by default, no internal or external drives are shown anymore because Apple doesn’t want the user to have to delve into the file system. Instead, the user gets “All Files”, specific “Favorite” locations that are often defined by what they contain—Applications, Documents, Downloads, and so forth—and, now, Tags that automatically populate based on what the user adds to their documents. If all the documents in a computer were tagged well, there would be no need for folders. Instead, tags act as folder-style designations; a user could search for specific tags or use the built-in Tag list (“Smart Folders”) in the sidebar. In addition, a list of all the documents on the computer separated by their file type would be sufficient for most users who want to find their images, PDFs, spreadsheets, etc.
Which gets me back to my original follow-up point: Tags in iOS. If nothing else, the realization of this hand-off capability has strengthened my case for an iOS implementation of tags moving forward, although I believe that Apple will deemphasize file extensions to promote filetypes and tags, as Jack Wellborn suggests. The implementation specifics aside, I stand by my statement that “Photos” on iOS and “All My Files” on OS X show us the ideal way that files might be accessed and arranged in iOS for use across multiple applications.
Did the Internet community peak at bookmarks? Asked in a different and perhaps more complete way: just as technologies like RSS and email in their purest forms are hard to beat even as technology marches forward, what better technology exists to keep track of information on the ever-expanding Internet than bookmarks? Taken a step further, what better way to share the bookmarked information than a site of your own? As such, I‘ve been reading, which is why I write now.
Working in and having a passion for libraries, I am struck by the fact that the way bookmarks work in the physical world is not directly analogous to bookmarks in the digital world. Bookmarks in the digital world are instead like dog-eared pages or highlighted passages; if you think of the Internet as a single tome, that is. In any case, anything that moves you to deface a book should probably be shared or become immortalized in some other way than just a reference for a future version of yourself.