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2008-11-18 18:32:56.597979+00 by Dan Lyke 12 comments

When will the floppy disk die as a save icon?

Two notes:

  1. "Save" is stupid. The idea that you create a temporary copy of the document in order to work on it is an outdated extension of computer limitations.
  2. Three thousand years developing written language and we're now worried about decade old hieroglyphs.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-18 20:12:26.974354+00 by: brennen

"Save" is (for many applications) stupid, but I think that until a robust and extremely reliable set of versioning tools is exposed through an interface that's at least as easy to understand, it ain't going anywhere.

Not that we're that far away from this happening.

As to floppy disks: It's a visual idiom[Wiki]. (Probably I should say "_ideogram_"?) Everyone knows what it means, so why sweat it?

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 00:06:37.8894+00 by: meuon

Brennen, of what generation of floppy do you recognize as "Save". The 8", 5.25". 3.5" (many variants), Zip disk, CDRW (what most people write to now.. ), DVD, USB Flash.. And what does a 13 year old in school know of floppies?

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 00:29:34.230553+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

I think Brennen's point is that it doesn't matter, the 3.5" floppy has become to save what the red octagon is to stop. The source of the symbol no longer matters.

Which means, basically, that it's the equivalent of jargon for the point-n-drool crowd.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 11:48:57.030309+00 by: topspin

Hell, I'm in the south. I'm just glad the Save icon isn't a picture of Jesus.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 13:29:23.061104+00 by: meuon

Snort! - I wish I had thought of that.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 18:46:41.942747+00 by: polly

I loved the floppy...I miss the floppy. All those little floppies, filed away in little plastic boxes EVERYWHERE! I've got 100s of floppies, no way to read them or save what was on them so they don't corrupt, get coffee spilled on them. Dang, I miss those old ways.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-19 21:35:42.467142+00 by: brennen

meuon - Yeah, what Dan said.

polly - I feel roughly the same about the 3.5" floppy as I do the compact cassette tape. Objectively I suppose it was a terrible format, but in tactile terms it was the most appealing medium that's been very common within my memory. I occasionally miss the pre-network era when everyone at my public school with any nerdish inclinations had a couple of Macintosh floppies full of bad little games, random pirated stuff, and HyperCard stacks. Amazing what it once seemed like you could fit in 720K...

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-20 15:06:50.745153+00 by: other_todd

I'm afraid that I don't understand why modern techniques and methods make the verb "Save" obsolete. When I press "Save" I think of it not as "make a copy" but "preserve, in some format, all incremental changes to a [blob in question] since the last time I did this action." I don't even think my non-computery mother thinks of "Save" as "make a copy" or "transfer changes to this copy back to the original" - does anyone? Am I missing something here?

And incidentally, there are plenty of cases where I *like* the idea of making a temporary copy to work on. It's the school of damage reduction. Always be able to revert. (The distinction between incremental recording of state changes a la RCS and "temporary copy" is a moot one here. The point is to be able to say, "I'm throwing away everything I did this session. Roll back, not commit.")

As for the floppy disk icon, I say to you what I said to a designer a year or two ago who had the same problem: Propose a better one. I agree the floppy disk symbol's a bit silly but can you come up with a suitably instant-recognition alternative?

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-20 15:28:21.098193+00 by: topspin [edit history]

For Dan:

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-20 15:51:49.834008+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think Topspin got it right:

On temporary copies, I think that replacing that portion of my workflow with a version control system would do my work worlds of good. Which, again, I think is Brennen's point.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-20 19:22:15.022515+00 by: other_todd [edit history]

Ah, okay, I'll buy that. I personally think that versioning is a better way to handle that sort of paradigm myself, mostly. One of the few things Wikipedia gets right - in addition to maintaining a history of meta-discussion about the page alongside each page - is the infinite versioning and comparison ability. That is one of the primary things that makes me keep toying with installing MediaWiki on my personal web server (although I have never quite bitten the bullet because I rail against keeping primarily long-form text documents in a database, with its relative opacity/inaccessibility over HTML files).

And at work I am notorious for habitually throwing RCS archives at even the smallest projects because RCS under Unix can literally be accomplished in five seconds if you already have the tools installed - just make an RCS directory below your project and check everything in. What's the downside?

But there are times when I really don't need all those back versions floating around, and that covers most of my short-term writing and documents. So it's not ALWAYS the answer.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-11-20 22:26:41.49867+00 by: Dan Lyke

There are days when I miss VMS's automatic versioning, and think that in these days of copy-on-write memory it should be relatively trivial to implement copy-on-write filesystems. Of course that doesn't handle the simple cases terribly well, so it does need to be a little more complex than that and probably exposed to the application layer, however, I think that's a good end goal.